In the spring of 2005, after the Angels decided Chone Figgins would be their everyday leadoff man, hitting coach Mickey Hatcher had one simple instruction for him: Lay off anything off-speed.
He meant it literally. Hatcher wanted Figgins to get a feel for taking pitches, so he instructed him to swing only at fastballs. Between 2005 and 2009, Figgins became one of the game's best leadoff men, improving his on-base percentage by 50 points. After he left the Angels (and Hatcher), Figgins has been a mess in Seattle. Last year, he had a .241 on-base percentage.
Now, Hatcher is taking a similar approach with slugger Mark Trumbo, who was one of the freest swingers in baseball last season, the main reason he had a paltry .291 on-base percentage. Trumbo walked 25 times in 573 plate appearances.
Hatcher is working with Trumbo to tighten up his swing boundaries, laying off anything off-speed and anything too far outside. The real test will start March 5, after the Angels begin their Cactus League schedule.
"You watch him in the games. If he swings at three straight changeups or something, have him go run a lap in the outfield," Hatcher said.