Joey Bart is back, but will it be different this time around.
Bart makes his return from a month-long stint with Triple-A Sacramento on Wednesday, after a very disappointing start to the season that saw the young catcher post a .156/.296/.300 slash line in 108 plate appearances with the big league club.
Part of sending Bart down was to rework his swing and approach at the plate. John Shea of The San Francisco Chronicle went down to Sacramento to check on Bart’s progress, and made a note of a few changes.
“You can tell that Joey Bart approaches his plate appearances much differently than what we saw last year and what we saw in the first weeks and months this year,” Shea told Papa & Lund on KNBR. “I mean the most notable thing I see as an amateur, I’m not a hitting coach or wear a uniform, but it’s obvious where his hands are. In front of his body instead of elbow high and raising the bat behind him. The bat is in front of him and the knees, they asked him to be kind of bowed, like he would in the squat as a catcher, rather than caving in with the knees, if you know what I mean. So there’s some upper body and some lower body maneuvering with this new plate approach which makes Bart become more of a simple hitter. More of a simplified approach.”
You can see the difference in approach by comparing the two clips below. Bart keeps his hands in front of him in the more recent clip from his time in Sacramento.
But it wasn’t just physical changes that needed to be made, Bart also needed to change his mental approach at the plate.
“But is he ready?” Shea continued. “Well he’s a lot more ready than what we saw of him in the majors and he told me how much of a mental issue it was. It wasn’t just physical. He went up there and said ‘I was just lost, I was in a hole. I couldn’t dig myself out.’
“So, there were a lot of hands on him. Mostly the hitting coaches, but talking the mental approach, talking the physical approach. So you’re going to see a different setup, a different stability and a different feel. Maybe a lot more relaxed Joey Bart at the plate. The hands are in the middle, it’s more of an upright approach, and it’s basically see the ball, hit the ball. When he was up there, he’s like ‘I’ve got so many moving parts, I don’t know what’s going to happen.’ So what kind of approach did you think he was going to have? Not very good.”
Listen to the full interview below. You can listen to every KNBR interview on our podcast page at knbr.com/podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Catch Papa & Lund weekdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on KNBR 104.5 / 680 and streaming live on KNBR.com.