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Friday, November 9, 2012
Dave Magadan's focus is situational hitting

By Richard Durrett

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers hitting coach Dave Magadan knows one of his biggest jobs is getting his team to perform more consistently in key situational at-bats. Despite leading the AL in runs, the club wasn't as consistent scoring a runner from third with less than two outs or having productive outs to move runners over.

The players know it, too. Magadan has talked to most of them by phone and will meet some face-to-face this week and in the Dominican Republic later this offseason.

"All of them felt they left a lot on the table, especially towards the end of the year," Magadan said.

So it's the new hitting coach's job to figure out how to help them avoid feeling that way after 2013, too. The focus is those key run-scoring situations. Take the runner at third and less than two outs, for instance. The Rangers were 16th in the majors at converting those chances, which isn't terrible, but it shows how much they left on the bases.

"In those situations, you’ve got to know if the infield is in, then you have to get something you can drive to the outfield," Magadan said. "But what I’ve seen, and it’s not only with Texas but it’s throughout baseball, not understanding that the team is giving you an RBI.

"When the infield is back and you got a guy on third with one out, they’re giving you the RBI. You don’t have to do anything special except hit a groundball the other way. Certainly, you’re going up there looking for something to drive, but understand that a groundball to second is going to get me an RBI and it’s going to get us a run. A lot of that happens early in the game that can set the tone on your way to score six or seven runs."

Magadan will work on that with drills and scenarios in the cages. But communication is the key, Magadan said, and doing it in different ways to different players.

"You've got to talk about it, you’ve got to make it a priority," Magadan said. "You’ve got to have a plan with each guy. I’m a big fan of not just having these hitters meeting and talking in a lot of generalities. I like to tailor it to each hitter. How Ian Kinsler is going to get pitched is not necessarily how (Adrian) Beltre is going to get pitched or Mike Napoli or Elvis (Andrus). Everybody is going to get pitched differently. It’s my job to convey my thoughts to each hitter, how I feel the pitcher is going to get them out that day."