MIAMI Although Giants manager Bruce Bochy finallyconvinced Brandon Belt to make some adjustments to his swing, the hailstorm ofstrikeouts probably did more to convince the young first baseman that something needed to change.
The biggest thing is getting myself in a hole and notputting balls in play that should be in play, Belt told me on Friday, when hecarried an 0-for-12, eight-strikeout streak into the game. Thats an approachtype of thing. Its a mental type of thing. At the same time, there might be aneed for a mechanical adjustment.
That day, Bochy took aside Belt and asked him to be moreopen-minded to making some adjustments that hes resisted since the spring. Thecoaching staff has tried to get him to be more upright and open up his stance,thereby freeing up his hips and allowing him to turn on inside pitches.
Bochy said that Belt incorporated those changes and had betterat-bats off the bench Friday, including an RBI single.
I like where hes at right now, Bochy said today. We talked abouta lot of things, hitting approach. Sometimes you make adjustments and thatswhat hes done.
And he likes it. he likes where hes at, too, and thatsprobably more important.
Belts swing-and-miss rate is 28 percent this season. He swungthrough just 18 percent of strikes last year.
Ive gone through it, Belt told me on Friday. The end ofmy last year, I was going through the same thing when it was just tough to putballs in play. Id square a few up here and there, and Im not even doing thatright now.
Im looking at video. I see some adjustments to make. Butits more of just knowing myself. Most of it has been a timing issue or amental approach. Ive just got to figure out what to change and do it.
Personally, how is Belt dealing with these struggles?
You know, Im fine, the 24-year-old said. Im a lotbetter than I was last year. It was harder to take back then.
I know this is the worst of the worst. Thats pretty muchas bad as I can get. When I get the right approach and the right mindset, Illget better.
Belt said he has to get back to reacting to pitches insteadof guessing. Opening his stance should help him recognize pitches better, Bochysaid.
You get to a point when youre caught in between, Belt toldme. Youre not really taking a professional approach up there. Youre eitherdeciding to swing or not to swing instead of seeing the ball and hitting itlike youre supposed to.
Belt said he needed to keep his head more still, which hecan do when he keeps his weight back longer.
I havent been doing that, Belt said. I dont know ifits being too anxious or what. I just know I havent had my swing all year, not since thespring. Well make some changes and Ill try to find it.
Bochy said it was a tough call to start Aubrey Huff overBelt on Sunday. He wanted Belt to take another day, knowing how hard it is towork on making adjustments in the cage while also needing to be results-orientedwhen the game starts. Bochy also said he liked the way Huff is working deepercounts; he nearly hit a home run on Friday.