Results tagged ‘ Rick Schu ’
By Daniel Propper
WASHINGTON – The Nationals are 9-15 during the month of May due largely to their struggling offense.
The team has compiled a .231 batting average in 24 games this month, which is tied for third-worst in the league. Washington is also second-to-last in the Majors in runs scored during May with 77 and its .298 on-base percentage ranks 25th.
“It’s a little bit of everything,” said hitting coach Rick Schu who explained why the team is not hitting. “Wherever you’re at, it’s a little bit of a mental and little bit of a mechanical thing.”
Granted, the Nationals suffered a number of injuries to key players in the first month of their 2014 campaign.
Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman was batting .364 with two home runs and six RBIs before fracturing his right thumb on April 12, an injury that has already forced him to miss 41 games. Meanwhile, left fielder Bryce Harper tore a ligament in his left thumb sliding into third base against the Padres on April 25, and has missed 28 games.
In addition, first baseman Adam LaRoche missed 14 games with a right quad strain during a stretch spanning from May 10 to May 24. He hit a two-run home run during his second game back Monday afternoon against the Marlins, but the Nationals still lost, 3-2.
“Probably more than anything, just get these guys to stop pressing,” Schu said. “LaRoche came back in the lineup, guys started relaxing a little bit more. Zimm’s getting close. And once we get those guys back in the lineup, I think it takes the pressure off the other guys trying to do too much.”
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.”
After having conversations with Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo and interim manager Jim Riggleman, Randy Knorr has decided to become the manager of Double-A Harrisburg, replacing John Stearns.
Knorr spent last season as the team’s a bullpen coach, but Rizzo and Riggleman told him his future was as a manager.
Knorr said if he had to do it all over again he would have been more vocal when it came to the pitching staff and try his best to convince Josh Bard and Wil Nieves that catching was more important than hitting.
“I love managing. It’s a new job. I want to be on the bench,” Knorr said.
Knorr has a history of success in the Minor Leagues. In 2008, for example, he guided Class-A Potomac to a 79-61 record en route to the Carolina League Championship.
The Nationals have not announced who will replace Knorr as the bullpen coach.
In other news, Rick Schu will replace Ralph Dickenson as the Nationals’ hitting coordinator. Best known as an infielder with the Phillies, Schu was a hitting coach with the Diamondbacks for almost two seasons.