Giants coaches give boost to baseball in Europe
Meulens, Lefebvre deliver hitting clinic to representatives from multiple countries
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants have a hand in hastening baseball's steady growth across the globe.
Hensley Meulens and Joe Lefebvre, the club's Major League hitting instructors, participated last month in the 27th European Coach Clinic held in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Accustomed to collaborating on the tutelage of Giants players, Meulens and Lefebvre delivered a joint lecture on hitting to more than 100 coaches hailing from numerous countries.
"Germany, Holland, Belgium, Russia, Austria -- they came from everywhere," Meulens said Monday.
Meulens supplemented that talk by delivering pointers on pregame planning for hitters. He also shared his experiences as manager of the Netherlands squad in the World Baseball Classic last March and was honored for his successful leadership of the team, which reached the tournament's semifinal round.
Lefebvre demonstrated batting drills and provided tips on covering the outfield, his primary position throughout his 10-year active playing career.
Major League Baseball has maintained a key role in nurturing and cultivating interest in the game throughout the world. Meulens has noticed the considerable growth in enthusiasm for the game, particularly since rules were relaxed around 2000 regarding the participation on national teams of professional players not in the Major Leagues.
"Germany has teams, Poland has teams, Russia has teams, Austria has teams. All these countries are playing baseball," said Meulens, a native of Curacao. "Even though they're playing on a small scale, they're trying to promote the game all over the place."
Like most people involved with the game, Meulens has begun to anticipate the Giants' arrival in Arizona, where pitchers and catchers will report to Spring Training at Scottsdale on Feb. 14. Position players are due Feb. 18, one day before the first full-squad workout.
The Giants ranked 10th last year among National League teams with 629 runs as injuries to Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro, Pablo Sandoval, Andres Torres and Hector Sanchez hampered the offense.
"The main thing with us is health," Meulens said. "If [players] can stay on the field, we have a quality lineup that can compete with anybody's."