Tuesday afternoon, the White Sox had an open teleconference that included new hitting coach Todd Steverson and pitching coach Don Cooper hosted by Gene Honda. Since it was my lunch time and it was a good opportunity to talk to the White Sox coaches, I called in.
Steverson's opening statements weren't too off from his previous statements about controlled aggression at the plate. While he concedes that batting is a physical activity and changing what the players have been doing most of their lives is difficult, regarding approach, "hitting and pitching is a constant mental battle," and it really requires hitters to stay disciplined at the plate.
After that, Gene started with questions from the callers. Fortunately, I was the first one. I asked whether the new hitting approach was going to be implemented throughout the Sox system. Steverson said that this has already started. Meetings have already been held with the major league and minor league staff to get everyone on the same page. Phwew.
Steverson was next asked about his idols when he was growing up. He mentioned spending time watching the Andre Dawson on the Cubs on WGN as a kid. He was also a fan of Dave Winfield.
Someone asked the somewhat vague question his bunting philosophy. He pulled the party line that managers make the sacrifice bunt call. The Oakland A's in him came out in him, though. He mentioned that the statistics supported sacrificing when runners are on first and second when the game is on the line. He also said that bunting with no outs and a runner on first was a waste of an out. We've got something to watch for next year now.
On drag bunting for a base hit, he thinks that it could really help someone like Alejandro De Aza pick up several base hits over the season. I'll add Leury Garcia to that list if he's on the team as well.
The question of Jose Abreu came up. While Steverson hasn't seen him batting in person, but was happy with the scouting reports. Later, Steverson brought up the name of one player he's looking forward to working with -- Gordon Beckham. Steverson was very encouraged with the improvements Beckham showed last year and is looking forward to helping him take the next step. He also mentioned working with Dayan Viciedo and De Aza, but he really sounded excited to work with Gordon.
Finally, Steverson was asked if he could help Adam Dunn hit the other way more and pick up some additional hits. Steverson side-stepped this question somewhat and went a little deeper into talking about approach, and specifically talked about handling the 0-0 count. For Steverson, swinging on the first pitch really needs to be for your pitch. He conceded that this could lead to cases where players are getting to 0-2 quickly and there could be more strikeouts. The batters, though, will also see more pitches, work back from being behind, and see more pitches.
Don Cooper came on next. With a busy offseason with surgery and recovery, he's been working on trying to take it easy. His doctor's told him he should take six weeks to recover, but started getting antsy at three. Gene started off Don Cooper with the question of last year. Cooper was all Rafiki-like with the last season, and didn't want to talk about it.
A caller then asked what it took to be a closer. After some history of the Sox closers in Cooper's time with the Sox, he went over several attributes, but it mostly came down to having that one dominant pitch and the right attitude.
The next question was about what it will be like to work with a mostly lefty rotation rotation next year. Cooper is expecting a move of somebody. After walking through the lefties in the rotation, Cooper talked about Mark Buehrle and how he learned a lot about pitching from Buehrle.
As for their Thanksgiving plans, Steverson will be enjoying fried turkey and football at his brother's house while Cooper sounded excited about plans for ham and turkey at home.