Sandoval succeeds with free swinging
Giants rookie has aggressive plan: 'See ball, hit ball'
SAN DIEGO -- The secret to Pablo Sandoval's hitting proficiency is that there's no secret at all.Sandoval, said Giants hitting coach Carney Lansford, maintains the simplest approach possible at the plate.
"It's just see ball, hit ball," Lansford said Sunday of the rookie switch-hitter, who took a .337 average into the series finale against the San Diego Padres.Or, as catcher Bengie Molina said, "You throw that guy the rosin bag, he'll find a way to hit it." Other hitters, said Lansford, "think themselves into outs" by overanalyzing what a pitcher might throw and not adjusting sufficiently when the hurler does something unexpected. This isn't a problem for Sandoval. If anything, he prompts pitchers to outthink themselves. "A lot of times he sets pitchers up because he takes an ugly swing and the guy will come back to that pitch again and he'll whack it," Lansford said. Sandoval had accumulated only 104 at-bats in 27 games before Sunday. But Lansford has seen enough of the 22-year-old to opt for a mostly hands-off approach with him. "I don't want to change anything with him because he's aggressive and he's hitting the ball hard. Pitchers haven't been able to figure him out yet and that's not just here, that's been all season," Lansford said, referring to the .350 average Sandoval compiled at Class A San Jose and Double-A Connecticut. "So I don't want to mess with success. Leave him alone. Let him hit." Sandoval does have room for improvement. Sometimes he's too unrestrained.
"I have to remind him every once in a while that the first pitch he swings at needs to be a little better pitch," Lansford said. "He swings at a lot of first-pitch 'pitcher's pitches,' like a changeup at the ankles. He'll chase it and foul it off. I have to remind him [with] the first swing that you take early in the count, get a pitch you can drive."Molina compared Sandoval's skill to that of Seattle wizard Ichiro Suzuki.
"He can hit any pitch at any time," Molina said.
Lansford likened Sandoval to a more powerful free swinger and bad-ball hitter, Vladimir Guerrero of the Los Angeles Angels."You can't pitch him a certain way," Lansford said, "because there's no certain way to pitch him."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.