Chris Heisey is in the lineup against A.J. Burnett.
Under normal circumstances, Heisey would be on the bench watching Xavier Paul or Derrick Robinson take their hacks at the Pirates' starter.
"I like the way Heisey is swinging the bat," Dusty Baker said. "He's made some adjustments. Ordinarily, I might not play him today. It is who I stack him up against. I wouldn't play him against Burnett because Burnett will throw him a bunch of breaking balls."
Todd Frazier is sitting out for the same reasons. Burnett can eat up young aggressive hitters.
"Jack (Hannahan) has had success against him (Burnett)," Baker said. Hannahan has six hits in 29 at-bats (.286) with a double against Burnett. Frazier is 1 for 10. Heisey is 2 for 13 with seven strikeouts. "You have to know your personnel," Baker said.
"Both Frazier and Heisey prefer the gas (fastballs)," Baker said. "X (Xavier Paul) doesn't really like the breaking ball either. Robinson is still a little banged up from that head first slide." (Robinson slid into home in Milwaukee trying to stretch a triple into an inside-the-park home run.)
Baker had a talk with Heisey about hitting the breaking ball (curve or slider).
"You hit it with imagination," Baker said. "You swing at where it is going to be not where you see it. I couldn't hit it either when I first came up. Guys that break into pro ball hitting the breaking ball don't usually make it. You make it to the big leagues hitting the fastball. You stay by learning to hit the breaking ball."
Heisey's time on the sideline may prove to be a benefit in the long run.
"I definitely feel my approach is better since I've come back," Heisey said. Heisey was hitting .173 when he left the game on April 27 in Washington with a hamstring injury. "I was hitting the ball and not getting any breaks," Heisey said. "If you look at just the numbers, it was bad but I wasn't swinging the bat that way. It was tough to see that number by my name while I was out."
Sitting on the sideline and working with Brook Jacoby while he was nursing his injury changed his mindset.
"Brook Jacoby talks about it all the time. You can't chase hits in this game. You try to get good pitches to hit. When you do that the byproduct is you're going to get hits. It's tough when you're taking ofers home night after night and you're thinking, 'I've got to get that one hit so I can sleep' There's times when this game will get you down and is consuming your mind."
By observation, Heisey was able to see what Jacoby meant. "I think that's been the difference for me, I've been trying to chase good pitches to hit. As a result I've been putting the bat on the ball more."
Heisey is hitting .367 in his 13 appearances and nine starts. He is 11-for-30 with five doubles, three home runs and seven RBI in that time.
Taking a step back and watching from a distance had its effects too.
"When you watch the game on TV, that back-behind-the-pitcher angle. The ball seems to float up there. You get in the batter's box. You realize you have so little time to make a decision. It's tough. There is definitely a time when you're sitting back and saying this game looks easy. At the same time from the other side, you remember it's not because you've been there and done that."
Heisey had a chance to study the better hitters which is helping his approach.
"While I've been out, I've been watching the best hitters. They never let the game speed up. The pitcher was throwing harder, they relaxed even more. That's the one thing I learned just by watching. I try to slow the game down as much as possible because things start snowballing. You try to speed things up and the next thing you know you're in a terrible slump."
|Professionally edited by ML Schirmer|
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