Springer speaks to young­sters

Blue Jays hit­ting men­tor coach of­fers in­sight

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By TED BLACK tblack@somd­news.com Twit­ter: tblack­somds1

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.”

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