Crew coach: Yelich looks like himself again

March 13th, 2021

PHOENIX -- Nobody knows better than his former Minor League manager-turned-Major League hitting coach Andy Haines, and nobody is happier than Haines with what he has seen from Yelich so far in Spring Training.

“He looks like Christian up there, regardless of where the balls went or whatever in 11 at-bats,” Haines said Saturday during an off-day in Yelich’s Cactus League schedule. “There could not have been any other thing I’d love to see out of Christian as far as, like, peace of mind, knowing what he needs to do.

“You can kind of see his tempo and things, how he’s seeing the ball and just his passes at the ball regardless of the result. The passes he’s taking, kind of like, I flinch. They can turn the game.”

Haines could talk hitting all day -- and he might have done just that when he sat down with reporters via Zoom this weekend, had there not been a workout to attend.

Here are some of Haines’ observations about a couple of other hitters in camp:

“You know, having history on the development side and kind of seeing some players go through what he is getting ready to go through, the skill set is so easy to see, man. This guy is impressive. He is playing really well. So really, my conversations with Garrett revolved around, like, 'Just be where your feet are. Everybody's going to be looking ahead for you. Being a good pro, it's not easy, man. A-ball is not easy. Don't underestimate what you're up against here.'

"The pro game is different than the college game with the 'everydayness' of it. It's just different. So, for me, that was really the only conversation that I intently had with him. Sometimes we focus on all these baseball things, and I say we drafted him in the first round, man. Like, some of those [granular] things aren't necessarily the priority. It's being a good pro. Be where your feet are. Dominate wherever you go and then you'll put yourself in a great spot for later on.”

“With Keston, I think [Friday’s] swing to right-center’s probably the epitome of Keston Hiura. That’s in his DNA when he’s right. There’s some things the game will teach you, man. Like how they’re going to pitch you, trying to do more is not the answer. Trusting his ability. Not really being concerned too much with what the other team’s doing.

"Keston, I don’t want to put too much pressure on him, but he’s really an elite hitter. So with that being said, sometimes it can be really simple. When Keston’s right, the way they’re attacking him is not of the utmost importance more than him being right and dialed in. He’s learned more than any other player can learn in the last year and a half … So it’s not one specific thing, but I do feel pretty good about some of the pain he endured last year, how much that’s going to benefit him probably in a shorter timeframe than normal for a young player.”

“I’m really excited about Travis. I think it was the day before the off-day he had some at-bats and didn’t look great, didn’t look like Travis Shaw at his best. It seems like after the off-day getting here [Shaw’s at-bats have been better]. He’s been through almost everything a Major League player can experience. He’s had success. He’s had some struggles that were so significant he had to go back to the Minor Leagues. He’s learned from those things. He’s grown.

"I think right now Travis maybe understands himself as a player as much as anyone as far as what he’s been through and what he needs for success and kind of what causes his struggles. The last few days, just watching everything, not only his swing but his takes, his swings, his work -- like I said, it’s Spring Training excitement, but I’m still pretty excited about what I’m watching, excited for Travis.”

“Looking at his background, he’s this really steady, use-the-whole-field [hitter]. I’ve said it about players in the past, but nothing really sticks out like, this is how he has to get to his success. There’s not one area. That’s a compliment because it means you can kind of survive the ups and downs of the long season. He really uses the whole field. I would say that really sticks out. The power in his bat to left field.

"When you speak to Jackie and you’re around him, the first impression is he has a really nice way about him. Super professional. Very confident but there’s just a really nice way about him when you speak to him, and he fits in really well with the group. He understands himself.”