There’s been a lot of talk this spring about a new hitting drill manager Jerry Manuel has installed for the team. Each player takes 80 pitches from a machine and has to swing at every one during a lightning-fast six minute session. The goal is to get the players into the mindset of having to put a pitch in play, even if it’s a bad pitch. This is all part of Manuel’s team-first philosophy.
Ben Shipgel of the NY Times does the best column on the drill that I’ve read. There’s been plenty written about the drill but this is the best one.
The next part of the hitting program for the Mets will be for the players to spot their favorite hitting zone and can’t swing at a pitch unless it’s in that zone. The goal is to improve discipline at the plate.
These are some of the drills that Manuels has identified as being successful during his career as a player and coach. There has been some concern about the players getting blisters on their hands from the grueling drills. But Manuel has been quick to point out that this will toughen them up and make them prepared to fight through fatigue throughout the season.
The other thing that Manuel has done is install TV’s throughout the Mets locker room this year. The TV’s play an endless loop of the Mets best opposite field hits from last season. The TV’s, even in Charlie Samuels’ office, all play the same video. The players are getting the propoganda treatment to show them how important the hits were that went the other way.
The coaches keep telling the exhausted players after hitting that it’s the price they’ll have to pay for a championship. I know that managers are hired to be fired, and I’m sure that Manuel will run his course eventually with the Mets. But I think he’s been a great fit so far for this team. His personality and dealings with the media have been excellent. And he seems to have built a good rapport with the players as well. Now all he needs to do is win.
Click below to watch the Mets players talking about the drills.