Before Saturday’s game versus the Marlins, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution spoke with Braves hitting coach Kevin Seitzer. The conversation is below.
Q: What do you think of the lineup so far?
A: We’ve got some guys off to a slow start, and we’ve got some guys swinging it pretty good. Kind of a normal start to the season, you know? You get guys that are off hot, guys that aren’t, and then they start trying to press a little bit and do a little too much. It takes a little while for us to settle in as an offense and start rolling. It’s kind of normal. Shortened spring training didn’t help, either. Guys will get synced up here.
Q: Dansby Swanson has traditionally been that guy who doesn’t panic during slumps. How do you help a guy like that when he’s struggling?
A: It’s easier with guys who are veteran guys that have gone through the ups and downs and, like you said, they don’t panic. They just stay with the process, doing their work. We’re making adjustments when need be, and they’re trying to do what they need to in order to get locked in. Sometimes it takes some guys longer than others, but when he gets hot – he got hot for two months last year in the middle of the season. We hope it doesn’t take that long, but we never know.
Q: Obviously, you knew Matt Olson was a really good hitter. Everybody did. Now seeing the way he works, why is he able to be so consistent?
A: He’s a much better hitter than I thought he was, getting to see him every day. His approach, his plan, he studies the pitchers. He’s got a plan every time he steps in the box of where he’s hunting, where his approach is that he’s trying to hit it, he uses the whole field, he’s got a really, really good eye, got great recognition. He’s far exceeded my expectations when he got here.
Q: Why do you think Eddie Rosario is off to a slow start?
A: Him, (Adam Duvall), Dansby are kind of in the same boat. They’re just not seeing the ball good, timing’s not there yet. Little early, little late. The recognition, the strike to ball pitches, they’re having a hard time staying off of that. Once hitters start swinging at secondary stuff out of the zone, then they get a little careful on fastballs and they can be a little late on those. It’s just all a part of getting synced up and locked in.
Q: Manager Brian Snitker said last week that an early season slump can feel worse for hitters than one in, say, July, just because the beginning of a season can make everything seem magnified. Would you agree?
A: Yeah, because everybody is talking about it when the numbers show what they show at the beginning. It’s me doing this interview with you talking about these guys. If everybody was swinging it, you’d be talking to them, and that’s OK, that’s part of it. Everybody has to go through ups and downs through the course of 162. It makes it a lot easier when it’s middle of the season, but they’re going to be swinging it when other guys that are off to a good start are going to be scuffling. It all balances out, but the numbers on the board, you can’t hide from them. They are what they are.
Q: How confident are you that you guys will continue to be the dangerous offense you’ve been for the last few years?
A: I don’t have expectations as a coach. I don’t like talking about what we’re going to do or where we’re going to be. It’s kind of the same attitude you try to instill in the players. You stay about the process, have the right attitude, have a plan, have an approach, make adjustments when need be, on a daily basis. And when you get to the end, we’re all hoping that it was a pretty good year for everybody.
Since I’ve been here, guys have done a lot better than I expected, and that’s always a great surprise because when I retired from playing, one thing I swore I’d never forget is how hard hitting is. It’s the hardest thing to do. When they’re hot, it looks easy. When they’re not, it’s like, ‘Have these guys ever played before?’ That’s what goes through fans’ minds, that’s what goes through the media’s minds, but all of us who played know how stinkin’ hard it is and the ups and downs of 162. It’s a marathon.
Like I said, the veteran guys have a better perspective on how to deal with the slumps than some young kids. They have to learn to go through that stuff. But one thing I’ll say about this group: Since I’ve been here, they fight, they grind, they get after it, they love to win, they love their teammates, they pull for each other. And when you got cohesiveness in the dugout, in the clubhouse like that, you got a chance to win a World Series, and that’s what happened last year.