The Cincinnati Bearcats baseball team is in the news today for a revolutionary vision training program they are using to help their offense. It involves a wide range of activities designed to sharpen focus and help players better see the ball.
According to the Associated Press, the Bearcats increased their team batting average by 34 points last season, despite the NCAA switch to aluminum bats engineered to play more like wooden ones. The program helped Cincinnati get significantly better at the plate while hitting was down overall in the Big East.
They say the exercise has become more and more popular and is even practiced in the major leagues. Quoted in the story is none other than Nationals utility guy Steve Lombardozzi.
''I try and get an edge any way I can,'' Lombardozzi told AP. ''I'm big into vision training. To me, it's a no-brainer. The most important thing about hitting is you have to see the ball to hit. Any type of vision training you can do to help you see the ball, the more successful you're going to be.''
The switch-hitting Lombardozzi is currently batting .317 in 33 games this season. At six feet and 195 pounds, the 23-year-old makes his living as a contact hitter and has done well for himself so far.
The article describes the drills Cincinnati uses, some of which involve blinding strobe goggles and other gadgets designed. The goggles are used to blind the player for fractions of a second while they focus on catching balls thrown at them.
Cincinnati reportedly does the program several times a week. They have been contacted by several MLB teams in interest of adopting the practice. With Lombardozzi as a proponent, maybe more Nationals players will catch on.
It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.
It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.
They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training.
RELATED: TIM TEBOW'S AT-BAT VS. MAX SCHERZER ENDED JUST HOW YOU'D EXPECT
Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.
Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.
Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats.
RELATED: CAMELS JOIN NATS AT SPRING TRAINING
We are fortunate enough to live in a world where we can watch a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback (attempt to) hit against a three-time Cy Young pitcher in a Major League Baseball preseason game.
Max Scherzer took less than a minute to strike out Tim Tebow, who was batting cleanup for the Mets in a spring training game Friday. You can watch the whole at-bat here:
It looks like Tebow and Scherzer are starting to develop a pattern - last year’s matchup between the two went down the exact same way.
Tebow was able to redeem himself later in the game with his first hit of the year against Nats prospect Erick Fedde. He will likely begin the season with the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies, but Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he believes Tebow will eventually see some at-bats in the Majors.