The Pittsburgh Pirates offense was just that last season. Offensive. Pirates fans bitched about it all season. The mistakes were evident. The strikeouts, the lack of being able to work the count to get on base with a walk, the inability to move runners, it all added up to a lack of runs.
So this offseason Don Long was out and a new coach was promoted. Gregg Ritchie has been in the Pirates system and knows a few things about hitting. His approach is solid and he is an excellent teacher.
Ritchie was focused on improving the Pirates pitchers ability with the stick when we were observing last week. Definently not an easy task.
In the video, Ritchie asked the pitchers who some of the best hitting pitchers they have seen. He then explained and showed why. He moved the instruction into the cage and one of the unique skills Ritchie has is his direct communication. He isn’t afraid to get in a players face. He also is savvy. Ritchie would bring in other Pirates pitchers to comment on their teammates stance, bat position, and overall athletic appearance.
It worked. We even saw Ross Ohlendorf crushing balls.
Ritchie tried to get each pitcher into a more comfortable agressive stance. Our favorite to watch was Chris Resop. That is one intense guy when he has a bat in his hands. He consistently lashed the ball back at the L screen, and got his bunts done easily. Also, Daniel McCutchen knows how to swing a bat as well.
As Ritchie moved the players into the cage, he said “We’re going to surprise some people this year with how well we hit.”
He had already surprised us.
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James McDonald was working hard in the cage to change his approach as Kent Tekulve fed the machine.