How this Phillie helped change Rojas' swing

April 24th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Todd Zolecki’s Phillies Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

CINCINNATI -- turned a nine-pitch at-bat into a walk in the fifth inning on Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park. He reached on an infield single in the ninth.

The Phillies lost to Cincinnati, 8-1, to snap their seven-game winning streak, but they have reasons to be encouraged by their recent play. One of them is Rojas. He batted .045 (1-for-22) with two walks, six strikeouts, one stolen base and a .205 OPS in his first eight games, but he is batting .395 (15-for-38) with two doubles, one triple, two RBIs, three walks, four strikeouts, five stolen bases and a .939 OPS in his last 12.

“First of all, I want to say that I am thankful for the opportunity,” Rojas said Tuesday night through the team’s interpreter. “I also want to thank K Long [hitting coach Kevin Long] and Trea Turner, especially, for these adjustments. Trea and I talked about a couple things. I looked better as soon as we talked. I’ve felt better as well.”

Turner and Rojas had a long talk in the batting cage before last Wednesday’s game against the Rockies at Citizens Bank Park. Rojas went 2-for-3 with a double, a walk and a stolen base that night. Turner didn’t get into the nitty gritty of the conversation, but Rojas said Tuesday that they talked a lot about mechanics -- specifically getting Rojas’ lower body going before his swing.

It is something Long and Rojas had been working on since Spring Training. But Turner’s conversation struck a chord.

“What we discussed in the cage was leg rotation first, then following up with the swing,” Rojas said. “During the game … it happens in only one motion. But during the cage work, we can think about that, first working on my leg rotation and then following up with the swing. [Turner] also told me to work smoother, not force things. He told me to like, if you’re going at 80 percent and you don’t feel like you’re doing it the way you want to, take it down a notch and go at 75 percent. I think that’s where I’m at right now. I’m working at 75 percent of my capability on that so I can work on the game as well.”

Turner showed Rojas some videos of other players. He slowed down the video so Rojas could see what he meant.

“The way that he explained it, it was so good that I understood right away,” Rojas said. “He also set himself as an example last year when he was struggling. He showed that was one of the reasons why he was struggling at the plate as well.

“For a star player such as Trea Turner to take his time to talk to me and help me, I feel really grateful for that.”

Rojas is batting .267/.333/.333 with a .666 OPS overall. The average No. 9 hitter in baseball is batting .212/.272/.302 with a .574 OPS.

Rojas’ OPS is 92 points better than that.

“He was a guy that we were going to keep a pulse on all the time,” Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said. “He’s made really good strides, which is great. He works very hard. He came to Spring Training with our coaches working on specific things. I think early in the season, you could even watch him take batting practice. He didn’t even hit the ball well in batting practice. He said it. He was just overthinking.

“They did a good job with him, talking to him and telling him, 'Look, when you get into the game, you need to perform.' You can’t be thinking, ‘I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that.’ Sometimes you’ve just got to go for it. He has made a tremendous change.”