Span credits Schu for “fluididity” in new swing

By Tom Schad | Associate Reporter

When the Nationals fired Rick Eckstein last week, several veterans said that a new hitting coach wouldn’t amount to much change. When you reach the big leagues, as Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond explained, you’re pretty much set in your ways at the plate.

But after belting his second home run in as many days on Sunday, Denard Span said that new hitting coach Rick Schu has already made a noticeable difference in his swing. Span, who is having one of the worst offensive seasons of his career, said that he’s been working regularly with Schu in the batting cage. Schu suggested changing where Span’s hands are on the bat and getting more rhythm in his swing.

Since Schu’s arrival, Span is 7-for-25 (.280) with two home runs, five RBI and four runs scored.

“Just simplifying it, trying to get a little rhythm in my swing,” Span said. “All year I’ve kind of been jumpy and choppy at the plate, starting and stopping and all that, so just getting a little bit more flow.”

Span said that Schu’s term for the change is “fluididty.”

“You’ll have to ask him about that,” Span said, smiling. “He made that word up. But you know, it’s been good so far.”

While Span doesn’t feel like he’s being any more aggressive at the plate, manager Davey Johnson said that he’s seen a change in Span’s approach since the center fielder moved out of the leadoff spot and into the lower part of the lineup.

“I think in the leadoff spot, you kind of want to make the pitcher work a lot, helps all the hitters behind you,” Johnson said. “But I think your on-base percentage always goes up when you show a pitcher you’re going to hammer something when he tries to get something down the middle early and get ahead. He’s been more aggressive on balls that are pretty much down the middle. He’ll still take the borderline pitches, but I like his approach. And he’s actually making contact out front more than even with it and rolling over. So that’s great.”

1 Comment

Hooray for Rick Schu. Apparantly there is a difference in his hitting philosophy and approach as opposed to Rick Ekstein. Like Ted Williams, Charlie Lau and Walt Wriniak a good hitting coach can make a difference. He of course has to have good ideas and most importantly to get the players to buy into those ideas. From what I understand Rick Schu has been successful at every level he has coached at. Truly good hitting coaches can make a difference or why pay them a salary at all?

Harold G. Pavel

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