It is understood that spring training is part of the grand cycle ongoing process of player development. During March, this is accomplished by repetition of individual defensive, pitching, and hitting drills, as well as team defensive drills of picks and rundowns, first and third defenses, bunt defenses, cuts and relays, and pop fly communication. These drills are performed over and over until they become force of habit, which are then reinforced in games.
However, as much as physical acts are a part of the game, the mental aspect of the game can be paramount. Optimal physical performance begins with preparation and a plan. Focusing on a plan and developing a routine to achieve the plan’s objectives is how players are most successful. To aid us in developing this part of our games, we have had several guest speakers. Last week, the pitchers listened to a discussion presented by former California/Anaheim Angels pitcher, Chuck Finley, who spoke about a variety of pitching topics.
A few days ago, Mickey Hatcher, former Big Leaguer and current Angels hitting coach spoke to hitters about the importance of having a plan when going up to the plate, and sticking with it. He stressed that all of the mechanical drill work is done in the cages and batting practice, and that once game time rolls around, you need to trust what you have on that given night. This echoes what last year’s hitting coach, Damon Mashore, was always stressing: ‘your swing for that night is what you have, trust it.’
Yesterday, former Major League utility player and current Angels color commentary, Rex Hudler, spoke to all players about a variety of topics. In his twenty minute talk (which is one of the best speeches I have listened to), the main message was to “sense the urgency.” In the scheme of life, our professional baseball careers only make up a small timeframe. “Hud” stressed the importance of giving it everything you have every day, because nothing is guaranteed. Someone is always ready to take food of your table and win your job. This motivational discussion was admirably presented and very well received by the players.