Pirates new hitting coach Ritchie discusses young bucs
Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette interviewed the Pirates new hitting coach Gregg Ritchie.
The Bucs finished last in the National League in average (.242) and on-base percentage (.304) and third worse in home runs (126). Ritchie, who has spent the past decade as hitting coach with the white sox, has a huge task at hand but is excited to work with Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker, Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata who have plenty of prime years ahead.
“It’s an exciting group,” Ritchie said. “And I’m especially fortunate in that I’ve had a chance to work with all of them closely.”
Ritchie’s plan for the Pirates hitters: “It’s about understanding a guy, having a relationship, having a trust and having a common cause.”
Ritchie expresses the most cautious tinkering with mechanics and has a flexible approach. “What’s in front of your eyeballs? What does the pitcher have to offer? What situation are we in? If there’s a situation where we need to be aggressive, we’ve got to understand that. If it’s a pitcher who doesn’t throw many strikes, we’ve got to understand that. If you work the process and have a team concept that we’re going to be run-producers, all that takes care of itself.”
On whether Pedro Alvarez has a whole in his swing: “If you look at Pedro as he moved from one level to the next, it was a consistent learning process. You’d see him struggle a little bit, then bam! He’d go to the next level, struggle a little bit, then bam! This guy has just made fabulous adjustments. So, no, that’s not a concern at all.”
On whether Neil Walker’s numbers were an aberration: “It’s going to be about repeating the consistency of things. Neil’s a talented guy, and he’s made advances the whole way through the system. There’s no reason why that can’t continue.”
On Jose Tabata hitting only four home runs: “Becoming a consistently good hitter, from a team approach, is everything. All the rest builds and builds. A hitter like Jose, who shows tremendous barrel control, that’s going to be the most important thing. He’s going to continue to get better.”