Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt is a regular every season at the Phillies Spring Training camp in Clearwater Florida, but usually spends just a week or two with the club. This season Schmidt has agreed to stay and spend more time with the club at the request of Charlie Manuel and the Phillies, saying that he may hang around until about the middle of March. I can’t think of anyone better then the best position player ever to come out of the Phillies organization.
In the past Schmidt has spent his time floating around and working with hitters in a minimal role, but this season plans to get involved in a more one-on-one basis with the players, and talk more about hitting, and what goes along with that.
“There will be times when I chat with guys about mechanics, but for the most part, the additions I’m going to offer this year are in-game strategies like, ‘Let’s be more aggressive in fastball counts, let’s be tougher to strike out, let’s figure out a way to give up fewer at-bats,’” Schmidt said. “A guy like me is only good if there are ears that want to listen. I never said I’m the end-all when it comes to that, but I’m a sounding board for guys, and I enjoy it.”
There were plenty of outcries this offseason for the Phillies to add to their offense, and they did that in a way. They added some better bats to their bench in Jim Thome, Laynce Nix, and Ty Wigginton, but other then that the names are pretty familiar. What Schmidt wants to do, with reinforcment from Thome, is get the hitters to reconsider their approach to everything.
“Can you change a guy’s approach? Yeah, you can get a guy to think about his role and profession. You can get him to think about being great at it and get him to understand it takes applying your mind more to your craft. You can get a guy to change the way he goes about his pre-game work.”
“You can get a guy to think more about his craft,” Schmidt said. “You need to come to the park and be darn sure you know who’s pitching tonight for starters, and I’ve heard stories that there have been occasions where guys might come and ask the hitting coach who’s pitching tonight. I can’t even fathom that… It takes applying your mind more to your craft.”
Schmidt also said that he thinks he knows how Ryan Howard feels about being “That guy.”
“I’ve been in his shoes,” Schmidt said. ”He and I were the clean-up hitters, and the guy expected to come through, and the guy making the most money. We probably get the most opportunities to make things happen, so we probably fail more then anybody, so the focus is probably on us.”
Schmidt isn’t trying to call anyone out, but he feels that this collection of guys has more then enough pop to get into the Postseason, and go all the way. It’s just a matter of having the right mental approach, physical ability, and a little bit of luck.
It’ll be nice having two Hall of Famers in Schmidt, and Ryne Sandberg in camp for an extended period of time.