Avisail Garcia knows exactly why he has struggled at the plate and recognizes some of the poor habits he has developed.
Now he has to learn how to implement into games what he and hitting coach Todd Steverson have worked on in the cage. The main focus of their work is for Garcia to use his hands more often, which requires better weight distribution.
The trick for Steverson is to keep Garcia — who hasn’t homered since June 8, a span of 188 plate appearances — from overthinking. Perhaps the team’s best hitter in April and May, Garcia has a .232/.267/.266 slash line with four doubles, a triple and eight RBIs since he last homered.
“He’s got phenomenal hands,” Steverson said. “Sometimes in hitting you start doing something you don’t know you’re doing it, and it becomes a habit, some good, some bad. Like, 'Where did this come from?'
“You want to access that but don’t want to make it a super duper issue — ‘OK, I can fix that. Now that I see I’m doing X, I should be able to do Y to help X.’
“That’s where he’s at right now. The talent is still there, but at the end of the day it becomes incumbent upon the player to make his adjustment after he has recognized it.”
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Garcia is aware of the problem and said Tuesday he feels better about his process. His main issue is that his weight shifts from back to front too far out front in his swing and he needs to find the middle. And because he’s too far out front, Garcia’s plate discipline has suffered — he’s striking out 27.8 percent of the time this season, up from 23.2 percent in 2014.
“I have enough power to hit the ball out of this ballpark,” Garcia said. “Just trying to use more of my hands, recognize the pitches because I have been swinging at a lot of bad pitches because my body is in front. When I start my at-bat, all my weight is in the back and then when the pitch is coming all my weight is in the front. I’ve got to be in the middle. Not too much back, not too much front, just in the middle to be successful, to use more of my hands.”
Garcia also knows some of the issue lies within his own head. He’s 6-foot-4, 240-pounds, and because of that body type, people expect him to hit homers. Garcia — who hit .296/.351/.453 with seven homers and 25 RBIs in his first 194 plate appearances when the rest of his team wasn’t hitting — admits he has overthought the lack of homers.
“I want to do more, that’s why,” Garcia said. “That’s not right. I’ve got to learn how I have enough power, I’ve just got to touch it. I just try to put the barrel on it, and that’s what I need to do. That’s it.”