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Brinson continues to make adjustments at dish

MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

NEW YORK -- Marlins rookie center fielder Lewis Brinson is making strides one section of the plate at a time. In fact, you can track his improvement by how he's better handling pitches away.

"He's starting to understand about covering the outer half of the plate," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "That's something that's going to be important for him, because he's quick inside. But when you look inside, then you're giving up another half of the plate, and then you're going to get beat up."

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NEW YORK -- Marlins rookie center fielder Lewis Brinson is making strides one section of the plate at a time. In fact, you can track his improvement by how he's better handling pitches away.

"He's starting to understand about covering the outer half of the plate," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "That's something that's going to be important for him, because he's quick inside. But when you look inside, then you're giving up another half of the plate, and then you're going to get beat up."

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Before being sidelined from July 4 to Sept. 1 with a bone bruise in his left hip, Brinson was frequently beaten by outside pitches. Since being reinstated from the disabled list, and returned from his rehab assignment, according to Statcast™ data, the 24-year-old is 5-for-7 (.714) on pitches in the three outside zones -- up, middle and low. Before his injury, he was hitting .200 (16-for-80) in those three zones.

"What we're seeing from Lewis is some good stuff," Mattingly said. "He's starting to understand, if you don't cover that outer half, that's pretty much where guys pitch. They will show you the ball in, and some guys will throw the ball in consistently. But most guys, they'll throw in there, but they really want to get you out to the other side of the plate."

For Brinson, it's all part of a broader learning experience.

Acquired from the Brewers as part of the Christian Yelich trade, Brinson has had his struggles, mostly at the plate. Defensively, he's been strong.

Video: TOR@MIA: Brinson leaps up to make nice grab in center

But at the plate, he hadn't settled into a solid stance until he made the adjustments in the cages with hitting coaches Mike Pagliarulo and Frank Menechino.

"It was a collective work process, hitting off the machine, and trying to keep my timing right," Brinson said. "Something kind of clicked when I was hurt and trying to come back, and I took it into the rehab games. Just trusting myself. I told myself to trust everything I was doing down there. Trust it no matter what."

The most obvious mechanical change is that he's staying more on his back leg, and seeing the ball deeper.

"I was definitely working on staying back more and swinging at pitches I can handle," Brinson said.

The refinements to his swing have helped him better handle pitches on the outside corners of the plate.

"Something kind of clicked when I was hurt and trying to come back, and I took it into the rehab games," Brinson said. "Just trusting myself. I told myself to trust everything I was doing down there. Trust it no matter what."

In a season where he has mostly struggled, Brinson notes the importance of staying confident. And he appreciates the support of his teammates.

"I think confidence is everything," Brinson said. "This game is mostly mental. Mentally, you know that you can hit. When you know your swing is right and you trust your swing, your swing will just happen. Your muscle memory will be there.

"Obviously, everybody here has had my back from day one. All the players, all the coaches. The staff, from top to bottom, has had my back. This whole year, I appreciate that, and definitely appreciate my teammates for sticking behind me and giving me some advice along the way."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Miami Marlins, Lewis Brinson