10/04/07 5:23 PM ET
Angels to be aggressive vs. Dice-K
Halos will look at video of Matsuzaka, not try to do too much
By Lyle Spencer / MLB.com
Fundamental stuff. Basic instinct. Trust yourself.This is essentially the Mickey Hatcher approach to the art of hitting. A Yogi disciple, the Angels' batting coach is big on not overthinking or overreacting. See ball, hit ball. "That comes with playing the game," Hatcher said. "If you get in a groove and have confidence, that ball looks big to you. If your timing's out of whack and you're not seeing the ball good, it makes it tough. "You can watch video to get a feel for what his pitches are doing, which side of the plate he likes to go to, what he likes to do in certain counts. His ball has a lot of movement, sinkage. But it comes down to making game adjustments, at-bat to at-bat. "The leadoff guy is really going to set the tone. I'll watch [Matsuzaka] during the game, try to get his tendencies, because he could be completely different than what you've seen on video. That's why you have to be ready to make quick adjustments." With respect to Dice-K, Angels manager Mike Scioscia recognized that "there's obviously an unfamiliarity with him," adding that left-handed hitters appear to have no measurable advantage against the man of many weapons. "A video will give you a little piece of the puzzle," Scioscia said. "You look at tendencies, some charts. But the biggest piece of the puzzle is in the batter's box." Scioscia doesn't put much stock in Matsuzaka's comparative struggles in the second half. Taking a 10-6 record and 3.84 ERA into the All-Star break, Dice-K was 5-6 with a 5.19 ERA after the Midsummer Classic. "A lot of things might go into that," Scioscia said. "It could be a little fatigue, hitters are starting to adjust. I wasn't close enough to know what was going on with him." Howard Kendrick, a potential batting champion in the eyes of some scouts, figures this is no time to change anything. The second baseman plans to attack Dice-K with the same philosophy he takes against every pitcher. "You've just got to go into a game like this open-minded," said Kendrick, who had one of the four hits against Beckett. "You can't make any prejudgments until you see what the guy has, because you don't have anything else to rely on. You just have to watch the game and see what he does, then make adjustments. "Basically, just go out and play your game, your style. Don't change anything." Reggie Willits isn't sure he'll be in the lineup, but he could be valuable against Matsuzaka. Nobody works counts better than the rookie outfielder. "I'll watch a lot of video," Willits said. "I'll look at hitters he has faced who are similar to me. They've got a scouting report on me, and I have a grasp on what they've done against me in the past. "I don't look at the delivery. I find his release point -- where he lets go -- and focus on that area. I like to take a pitch or two my first at-bat of every game, but if it's an RBI situation, I don't have a problem trying to drive that run in early in the count."
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Game situations dictate approaches.Anderson has been around long enough to know what not to expect -- anything in his wheelhouse. "I know I'm not going to get a lot of stuff out over the plate," Anderson said. "It's not a pattern -- they're not going to let me beat them. I can't go up trying to do too much." Hideo Nomo, the Japanese right-hander who made a big splash with the Dodgers, also had a hesitation in his windup, but Anderson sees no useful parallels with Matsuzaka. "Nomo had a different delivery," Anderson said. "He was fine early, then they started hitting him. They made adjustments." See ball, hit ball. Understand the game situation, what it dictates. Make adjustments. Trust your instincts. And, maybe most importantly, go back to being 14 years old on a sandlot, loving how it feels to play the game.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.