Springer speaks to youngsters
Blue Jays hitting mentor coach offers insight
Following a brief stint in the major leagues after a prolonged minor league career, Toronto Blue Jays hitting mentor coach Steve Springer realized that players cannot simply being measured by statistics.
On Thursday evening inside the Legends Club at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf, Springer spoke to a gathering of local baseball players and their parents about the mental aspect of hitting.
Springer went 4 of 17 with one double, one run scored and one run batted in while playing for the Cleveland Indians and New York Mets, but that followed a prolonged minor league career in which he batted .274 (1587 of 5789) with 280 doubles, 46 triples and 128 home runs.
“What a lot of players and coaches fall into is the batting average trap,” Springer told the gathering. “This game will beat you down. It will wear on your confidence. But you can’t fall into the trap of thinking that batting averages and stats determine success. It’s all about being confident and hitting the ball hard and batting with controlled violence.”
Springer makes 30 to 40 pubic appearances annually, although most of his audience comes via compact discs and other videos, but his visit to the Regency Furniture Stadium on Thursday was perhaps different from many of his other ventures. He departed Los Angeles late Wednesday night, arrived in Baltimore early Thursday morning, played 18 holes of golf then headed to Waldorf.
During his speech and presentation, which lasted roughly 70 minutes, Springer proudly wore his Toronto Blue Jays T-shirt, but he perhaps spoke proudest of his latest protege, Baltimore Orioles outfielder Mark Trumbo. During a season in which the Blue Jays and Orioles are in the midst of a pennant race two-thirds of the way through the season, Springer has mixed emotions about seeing Trumbo succeed this season.
“This is a funny game,” Springer said. “I think almost everyone on every team knows everyone else. I love seeing Mark succeed, but my main goal is helping the Blue Jays win a World Series. I talk to Mark quite a bit, but I won’t talk to him when the Orioles play the Blue Jays. But I’m glad to see him having a great year.”
Before Springer stepped to the podium on Thursday, Trumbo had belted his league-leading 32nd homer, a grand slam that helped the Orioles defeat the Oakland A’s, 9-6. Trumbo had enjoyed previous success with the Angels from 2011-14, hitting 95 home runs while driving in 282 runs during that span, with personal highs of 34 homers and 100 RBI in 2013.
Austin Watts, a Leonardtown resident and rising sophomore at St, Mary’s Ryken High School, was impressed with Springer’s mental approach to hitting and his numerous interactions with Trumbo. Watts, who plays for the Southern Maryland Elite, admits throughout his youth days he often played for coaches who measured their lineup largely on statistics.
“He was great,” Watts said. “It’s amazing to listen to someone that has that sort of relationship with someone like Trumbo. I wish that I knew someone like that. I learned a lot from listening to him. He has a great mental approach to hitting. Sometimes you hit the ball hard and you don’t get a hit, but that doesn’t mean you’re not a good hitter.”
Zach Roberts, a rising junior at Chopticon High School, had listened to Springer’s CD before, but he gained an added appreciation by hearing him speak in person.
“It’s a lot better hearing him speak in person,” Roberts said. “I’ve watched his CD, but you really pick up so much more listening to him speak and watching him in person. He’s taught me a lot about the mental approach of hitting. It’s all about helping your teammates and making your team better. You can’t look at the stats and think you’re good or not any good.”