SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Nate Schierholtz spent the winterrunning with parachutes and pulling sleds, and no, he wasnt a contestant onThe Amazing Race."He does hope to be off to the races in 2012, though.By the time I leave here, I plan to make the stolen basepart of my game, said Schierholtz, the Giants incumbent right fielder.Definitely, I know its something Ill be comfortable doing.He hasnt been comfortable in the past, as his career stats illustrate. In parts of five seasons, the 28-year-old has stolen 17 bases and been caught12 times.Id always worry about making the out, he said.
His reticence to run included called plays from the bench.In one instance at Arizona in 2010, he entered as a pinch runner under ordersto steal second base and got picked off. (He later hit the game-winningtriple in extra innings, so all was forgotten that night.)This season, Schierholtz plans on following orders andexecuting them to success, too.Shoot, Im one of the slower guys in the outfield now,said Schierholtz, who figures to play alongside Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan.All of the sudden, the outfield is a pretty athletic group of guys. Id liketo show I can hang with em.I always felt I was pretty good at going first to third orsecond to home. But I need to steal bases, too, because this is a differentteam this year. Were built around speed and athleticism.Schierholtz is a major cage rat, but he spent time away fromhis bats this winter while working with newly promoted strength andconditioning coordinator Cark Kochan. Out came the parachutes and the sleds.Schierholtz also spent more time in the gym on exercises to strengthen his hipsand core.The key is getting a good jump, he said. Its all inthose first two to three steps.Schierholtz was one of many players on the basepaths morethan an hour before Tuesdays workout, practicing their leads and jumps. Duringthe workout, Kochan conducted a drill in which he shouted out various gamesituations such as sacrifice flies or doubles to the gap.Some easy trots wouldn't be bad, either. Although a fractured foot shortened his season, Schierholtz is coming off his best year at the plate; his nine home runs (in335 at-bats) equaled his career total from the previous four seasons combined(in 699 at-bats).Always labeled a power-hitting prospect in the minors,Schierholtz said there was a simple reason he was able to launch shotsinto McCovey Cove last season.In the past, coming off the bench as an extra outfielder, Iwas so concerned with getting my hits so Id get another opportunity to play,he said. I wasnt trying to drive the ball as much as make sure I got a hit. Everybody knows that if youre on thebench and your average doesnt look too good, youre not going to play.Last year, I learned to let it go a little bit. I figured Ididnt have anything to lose. I decided Id go out and play the way I want toplay. It worked out better than ever before.