WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Heeding the lessons learned during his first full season in the Majors, Stephen Piscotty has curtailed his spring activity in an effort to ensure that work done now doesn't tire him come summer.It's an exercise in quality over quantity for Piscotty, who wanted to be
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Heeding the lessons learned during his first full season in the Majors, Stephen Piscotty has curtailed his spring activity in an effort to ensure that work done now doesn't tire him come summer.
It's an exercise in quality over quantity for Piscotty, who wanted to be proactive in adjusting his workload so that he could stave off the fatigue that hindered him over the final two months of the 2016 season.
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"I want to work because we're here, but I've been way more conscious of how long I'm spending in the cage and how many throws I'm making to make sure I get out ahead of this for this year," Piscotty said. "Saying I worked too hard is not the right phrasing, but I took too many reps [last year]. And by the time I got to August and early September, I had lost some of that edge and felt kind of dull."
His second-half production reflected that reality. After slashing .295/.366/.490 with an OPS of .856 in his first 92 games, Piscotty posted a .238/.306/.404 slash line and .710 OPS over his final 61. His throws lost some zip, and his legs felt weary.
It was to be expected, of course, given that Piscotty had never before played a full season in the Majors. But now that he has, adjustments have been made.
One of the biggest, Piscotty explained, has been going into each day's work with a detailed plan. It sounds simple enough, but Piscotty said he's being more intentional in the execution. He believes he got himself into trouble last year by improvising in the batting cages when he wasn't accomplishing what he had hoped to on a particular day. Now, he'll just stop and pick up the work the following day.
"It's just kind of putting together enough of the information, and Stephen is great at that," manager Mike Matheny said. "He pays close attention to what feels right, what didn't, and what he could possibly do to allow himself to have continued success. He's smart."
Piscotty also responded to the Cardinals' call for a more athletic roster by introducing changes to his conditioning work. He's seeking more explosiveness, while also trying to protect his knees from too much stress. Piscotty is addressing the latter with a three-fold approach: improving ankle mobility, loosening his hips and activating his glutes.
"I just feel like I have a really good plan to go forward with," Piscotty said. "The nice thing about looking back on last year was there was a lot of good, but there were also a lot of areas where I know I can improve upon. It gives me a plan, a purpose, going forward."
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.