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Sonnanstine learning to get ahead

Updated: May 3, 2008, 7:13 PM ET
Giving up base on balls was something that nagged at Andy Sonnanstine and in spring training, the Rays' right-hander began having conversations about the mentality of hitters with a couple of teammates -- veteran Eric Hinske, and first-base coach George Hendrick, who accumulated 1,980 hits and 267 homers during his career.

What those lengthy conversations reinforced to Sonnanstine was the peril of pitching into ball-strike counts that greatly favor the hitter -- two balls and no strikes or 3-1. "I was telling [Hinske] of how much better I felt if I threw a first-pitch strike," said Sonnanstine, from Fenway Park, "and he was letting me know how amped he's getting when there's a 2-0 count, or 3-1. He gets excited because he knows that statistically, the chances are he's going to get a base knock."

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