Adjustments pay off for LaRoche
Pirates third baseman credits hitting coach for improvement
PITTSBURGH -- After doubling his season hits total with a single on Friday, third baseman Andy LaRoche handed some of the credit to hitting coach Don Long, who spent time tweaking LaRoche's stance earlier in the day in the batting cages.
LaRoche then went out and had a three-hit game on Saturday, further evidence that maybe Long has at least partially solved some of the third baseman's early hitting woes.
The change was simple. LaRoche's urgency to try steal a hit -- he started the season 1-for-20 -- inadvertently caused his upper body to begin rotating too far toward right-center field. That closed LaRoche off from being able to hit inside pitches, and opposing pitchers took full advantage.
"We saw an immediate relaxed approach," manager John Russell said of the change. "He was able to get his hands out in front. He was able to let his bat work without him having to manipulate his body so much. His body's not rotating, so his upper half works with his lower half. That allows him to stay on the ball later, and they can't just continue to pound the ball in."
In his first two games since changing that approach, LaRoche went 4-for-6 with two doubles and a walk.
LaRoche's new stance might be breeding some confidence at just the right time, too, as the third baseman has fared well against the Marlins in his short Major League career. Florida comes to Pittsburgh on Monday for a three-game series.
In 12 at-bats against the Marlins, LaRoche is 4-for-12 with two runs, four RBIs and six walks.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.