Prior to his three-hit night Monday, one that helped him break out of a mini-slump, Jose Abreu toted his iPad with him to the batting cage.
On occasion, the White Sox slugger brings his tablet and its camera into the cage and shoots footage of that day’s session with hitting coach Todd Steverson and assistant coach Harold Baines. Hitless in 13 straight at-bats through the first inning on Monday, Abreu wanted to determine why he felt out of whack. Though he doesn’t always do it, Abreu has employed the practice for four years now and its one he feels helps him to make proper adjustments.
“Usually I do that when I don’t feel good at the plate,” Abreu said through an interpreter. “I do that to try to identify what I’m doing wrong, especially mechanically. That’s the way I identify the mistakes and try to fix it.”
The identification process has become considerably easier for Abreu in the last year or so. He began shooting some of his batting practices when he played for Cienfuegos with the help of a coach, who used his cell phone to record the sessions.
Since he joined the White Sox, Abreu upgraded to the iPad, which allows him to not only record those sessions but also keep them on file. Abreu has none of the sessions from Cuba but has almost every one since he switched to the tablet. The catalog allows him to compare his current swing to previous instances when he felt like he was hitting the ball well.
“That is very helpful because I’m always trying to learn from the baseball standpoint,” Abreu said. “Every day is a lesson and if you have the resources to keep learning every day from the past, that’s something that is going to help you improve for today and getting better every day.”
Hitting coach Todd Steverson said Abreu rarely brings the iPad into the cage. Steverson stresses to players that the pitches they’re swinging at are as of much importance to the process. But he also appreciates that Abreu wants to give himself an extra tool to make sure he gets his swing back on track.
“We have enough video of games that he just wants to see probably his work is the same, his movement is the same,” Steverson said. “That’s a personal thing for most guys. It doesn’t happen very often, but it’s a feel. If you can’t feel it you want to see it to figure out what the feel is again. I encourage everybody to do what they want to find their feel back.”
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Abreu said the practice has helped do just that. Having reviewed his swing again and again over the years, Abreu has a good feel for the proper triggers to a successful path to the plate. Whereas Tony Gwynn used to lug a VCR on the road with him to record games to look at his swing, Abreu also knows how advances in technology have made the process much, much easier for players.
“It’s very stunning to realize how the technology has changed and the times have changed,” Abreu said. “Now we can do it easier.
“It’s something that helps you a lot.
“I can identify it very, very quick of what and where is the problem. That’s something that is very easy for me. I think that’s also because I understand me very well and I know what is my approach and what are my mechanics and that doesn’t take too much time.”