When he was hired, new Miami Marlins hitting coach Frank Menechino knew what he was getting into. His new task was to assist a team that ended the 2013 season last in all of baseball in runs scored, home runs, batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. That didn't scare the former major league outfielder away.
With months of preparation ahead of him, Menechino is anxious to change Miami's "culture" at the plate.
"I'm anxious to talk to my guys, see what they want to do," Menechino said during an MLB.com interview. "See what their plans are. See what they think about themselves. And I'll help them along. I'm going to be their eyes."
When dealing with such a large number of young players, which the Marlins' roster is filled with, Menechino stresses the importance of creating a new mental approach. The Marlins consistently struggled with runners in scoring position last season, and Menechino feels an altered mental approach can lead to more success.
"I'm interested in getting into these guys' heads and talking to them about their approach, and what they feel their strengths and weaknesses are, and just helping them with that," Menechino said. "To me, it's the mental approach that I'm going to be consumed with for a lot of my players."
Like former hitting coach Tino Martinez, Menechino has spent several seasons in the Yankees organization. He played in the major leagues with Toronto and Oakland, and is a career .240 hitter.
Instead of changing the mechanics of struggling hitters individually, Menechino believes just getting the players to think about each at-bat differently will lead to a change in their mechanics.
"For me, I'm not into mechanics that much," Menechino said. "As far as I'm concerned, mechanics, you tweak them here and there. A bad approach will make bad mechanics. They just have to know their approach -- what they want to hit, when they want to hit. It's the game within the game."
Menechino became Miami's fifth hitting coach since 2010. He was surprised to even get an interview because of a lack of familiarity with the organization, but is excited to be a part of the rebuilding process, which he believes means "controlling egos."
"When you're molding the clay, their egos and their pride and their ability and their confidence is getting crushed," Menechino said. "It's our job to say, 'Hey, guys, it's not OK to play like garbage. But you're going to have to take these lumps and learn fast. You've got to learn from your mistakes, and you've got to get comfortable being uncomfortable.'"
Just from speaking with front office executives, Menechino sees the shift in culture and believes that "if you have a losing mentality, you won't be here long." When asked about playing 82 games at Marlins Park, Menechino mentioned the importance of getting a share of home runs on the road.
"We'll be road warriors. Not a big deal," Menechino said. "We'll take our hits and doubles at home, and on the road, when we take our hits and doubles approach, those line drives that are going off the wall are going out of the park. Those fly balls that are on the track are going out of the park. It's a mindset. We have a big yard at home. So what? Let's line drive them -- doubles and singles."
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