Meulens challenges hitters to work smarter, not harder


Meulens challenges hitters to work smarter, not harder

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. In his first year as theGiants hitting coach Hensley Meulens ended up in the World Series winnerscircle. In his second year, his horse finished dead last. In runs scored, the Giants ranked 16th out of 16 National League clubs. Their .173 average with two outs and runners in scoringposition (in more than 600 at-bats) was the worst by any major league club infour decades for which data is kept. It was agony and ecstasy,inverted. Its awake up call to myself, said Meulens, the former Yankee fromCuracao.
Itold (GM Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy), Hey, I know I work hard. Butthe hard work has to show up in the field, and a lot of times it didnt. So Idont take anything for granted. Im glad theyre giving me the chance torectify a lot of the things that went wrong last year. That process began with a 9:30 a.m. meeting inthe batting cages Saturday that was attended by all the position players inmajor league camp. Bochy introduced Meulens, who delivered the main thrust ofthe message: Be focused and committed, recognize your role in situations andpractice smart in addition to hard. Hitting coordinator Joe Lefebvre spoke, as didspecial instructors J.T. Snow and Jeff Kent. Of all the other speeches, Kent,the 2000 NL MVP, went on the longest as he talked about preparation andfocus. We didnt wantto do this the first day, Meulens said. We wanted them to them get in and getsettled. We thought today was a good day to meet, just to make sure everybodygets on the same page. This will be a smooth running engine by the time weleave here in terms of focus and concentration. And be ready to hit the fastball. Thats a bigone, too especially with young players like Brandon Belt and BrandonCrawford, who struggled when they were rushed to the bigleagues. We had Beltmaking the team before his time, Meulens said. We had Crawford coming up fromA-ball. We had (Hector) Sanchez who began the year in A-ball. And also, (AubreyHuff) didnt have the year we thought he would have. (Andres) Torres didnt andCody Ross didnt, and yes, they were late on the fastball a lot because theirfoot wasnt getting down. Its hard to hit a quality major league fastball whenyour foots still in the air. Thats why we talked about having a linedrive and down mentality. When youre late on the fastball, thats when you hita lot of fly balls. If you neglect certain areas of your offense, itll show upat the end of the year. The Giants didnt struggle to put runs on theboard because they werent trying. In fact, all those extra swings in the cagefed into the problem, Meulens said. What I asked them to do is do less swingingand more quality swinging, he said. Just take a few swings, lock yourself inand preserve your energy for the game. Snow and Kent talked aboutthat. Theres a fewguys who do it well, but there are way too many guys who spend too much time inthe cage, way too much time watching video. You need those things, but at thesame time you have to know when enough is enough. So were going to minimize our time withvideo and the cage and concentrate on having a better plan at the plate.Because not only were we late on the fastballs, but we were fooled a lot whenwe were ahead in the count. They threw Huffy a lot of 1-0 changeups and hechased. You have to have a plan, knowing they will try to do that again untilyou make an adjustment. Part of that is trusting the hitter behindyou, Meulens said. Its a lesson that the 2010 team bought into as belief beganto surge. Its something that last years club never was able toestablish. Thatswhen youve got to be smarter and learn to pass the baton, Meulens said.Because if they dont want to pitch to you, the next guy can do thejob.Meulens said he is encouraged, and not only becauseBusterPosey is expected back or new additions AngelPagan andMelky Cabrera promise to provide more dynamicpresences. Itsbecause all of these guys are .270 hitters or better, Meulens said. Thatswho they are. I believe the numbers will go up. They have to be. They cant goany lower. And howdid the players respond during the 30-minute meeting? Thats whats intriguing, he said.Everybody right away said, We need to do this. Were much better than we werelast year. You look around at their faces and you see, Yeah, were hungry toget better at this. And all I ask is to have that 100 percentcommitment. Because if thats not there, its not going to happen. You cansense everybody is committed, is ready to turn the page, is ready to have ouroffense be talked about as just like they talk about out pitching in a goodway. Thats our goal-- not to worry about, Oh, we didnt score enough runs again. We told them,Hey, we didnt get a big bat. Theres a reason for that. We have the guys inthis room to put runs on the board. Lets just get focused and start doingthat. Meulens mightmiss a few early days in camp, though. He and his wife should welcome a newbaby any day now.

Dodgers add to riches, acquire Mets slugger in trade


Dodgers add to riches, acquire Mets slugger in trade

NEW YORK — The Los Angeles Dodgers have acquired outfielder Curtis Granderson and cash from the New York Mets for a player to be named later or cash.

The teams announced the deal after their games Friday night. The 36-year-old Granderson is hitting .228 with 19 home runs and 52 RBIs this year.

Los Angeles is running away with the NL West. The Dodgers are 86-34 after Friday's win at Detroit . Granderson gives Los Angeles another option for the outfield along with Cody Bellinger, Yasiel Puig, Chris Taylor and Joc Pederson.

Pederson has been struggling quite a bit of late, hitting .149 since the All-Star break. Granderson, like Pederson, offers some power from the left side of the plate.

Giants pound Phillies in blowout win, Moore pitches into eighth

Giants pound Phillies in blowout win, Moore pitches into eighth


SAN FRANCISCO -- Matt Moore took his time walking off the mound after Giants manager Bruce Bochy came out to replace him in the eighth inning.

Moore wanted to enjoy the ovation from the crowd at AT&T Park, something he hadn't heard for quite some time.

Moore took a one-hitter into the eighth inning and picked up his first win in nearly two months as San Francisco beat the Philadelphia Phillies 10-2 on Friday night.

"It's something that I think is one of the coolest parts about playing here, is just how loud it can get and the appreciation coming off the hill," Moore said. "It was definitely nice to have that."

Hunter Pence and Brandon Crawford both homered, Pablo Sandoval had an RBI single and Denard Span added three hits and made a nice running catch in center field to help San Francisco to its ninth win in the last 12 games at AT&T Park.

One day after becoming the first team in major league history to reach 11,000 wins as a franchise, the Giants added on by beating the worst team in baseball again.

Moore (4-12) was crisp in his second straight strong start despite four walks, allowing two hits over 7 1/3 innings to win for the first time since June 20.

"He's got a good rhythm going," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It looks like he's playing catch with (catcher Buster Posey), that's the effort he's putting in it right now. I think it's helped his command on all his pitches."

Moore credited a calmer approach in his last two starts.

"For a lot of the season I was overthrowing," Moore said. "It's just too much to be gritting that much through. After the break that was something I was working on, making sure I'm not white-knuckling too much stuff."

Four relievers combined for five outs to complete the four-hitter.

Jorge Alfaro singled twice and scored for Philadelphia.

Pence doubled and scored as part of a three-run first inning, then hit his 11th home run in the second.

Crawford tacked on with a two-run home run in the third, his 10th, after Sandoval walked. Crawford, who also doubled in the eighth, had been in a 2-for-22 slump.

Philadelphia didn't get a runner past second base until the eighth when Freddy Galvis singled in both runs.

"We got four hits (and) Alfaro had two of them," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "The bats just ain't there right now."


Starting pitcher Zach Eflin (1-5) allowed six runs and seven hits over five innings for the Phillies and later complained of tightness in his right shoulder. Eflin has lost two of three starts since a two-month stint in the minors. "As the fifth inning came to an end it was more of a precautionary thing to come out because it wasn't feeling right at that point," Eflin said.


Posey has hit safely in 20 straight games against Philadelphia, the longest hitting streak of his career against any team.


Phillies: Mackanin's ballclub was one player short after the team placed OF Odubel Herrera on the disabled list with a hamstring injury in a move that is retroactive to Aug. 15. Herrera has a 17-game hitting streak that is the longest active in the majors. A corresponding move is expected before Saturday's game.

Giants: RHP Johnny Cueto threw 50 pitches in a bullpen session and could begin a rehab assignment early next week. Cueto also threw a 50-pitch bullpen during the team's recent three-game series in Miami. ... 1B Brandon Belt (concussion) and 2B Joe Panik (concussion symptoms) both did cardio work before the game.


Phillies RHP Jerad Eickoff (3-7, 4.45 ERA) makes his second start against the Giants this season Saturday while San Francisco counters with LHP Ty Blach (8-8, 4.37 ERA). Blach blanked Philadelphia with a seven-hitter on June 2.