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05/27/09 9:58 PM ET
Schierholtz thriving as pinch-hitter
Young Giants outfielder makes most of bench role
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Nothing about Nate Schierholtz fits a typical pinch-hitter's profile. Except for his results, which are anything but typical. Schierholtz entered Wednesday batting .429 (6-for-14) off the bench. He ranked fourth in the National League in pinch-hits behind Los Angeles' Mark Loretta (eight), Florida's Ross Gload (seven) and Florida's Wes Helms (seven). Most accomplished pinch-hitters are veterans such as Loretta, 37, and Gload and Helms, both 33. Having been an everyday player at some juncture also helps the ideal pinch-hitter, since the experience gives him a base of at-bats that enables him to adjust more easily to different pitchers. Then there's Schierholtz, 25. He has yet to play a full Major League season, started only nine games this year and accumulated fewer at-bats than any Giants position player who made the Opening Day roster except fellow outfielder Andres Torres. "It looks like he's getting more and more comfortable with it," manager Bruce Bochy said in appreciation for Schierholtz's pinch-hitting. "He really has done better than I expected." Schierholtz's approach is simple: Work hard and stay aggressive. Regarding the former, Schierholtz takes batting practice as much as three or four times daily. Not only does he take cuts before and after regular batting practice, but he also hits off a tee during the game.
"I like having some adrenaline flowing when I go up to the plate," he said.As for the latter, Schierholtz tries to be ready for anything. "I kind of just go up there and react," he said. "I look for a fastball to hit early on and if I get to two strikes, I just try to battle and put the bat on the ball." Schierholtz has learned that if he waits for that one good fastball, it might never come. "If it's a breaking ball that's right there, sometimes you might want to go after that, if it's a high changeup," Schierholtz said. "So I'm looking in not too broad of a zone, but for a pitch over the plate to hit."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.