Coaches Corner with Miami Marlins hitting coach Mike Pagliarulo

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In this excerpt from Marlins ClubHouse, Miami Marlins hitting coach Mike Pagliarulo tells Kelly Saco about some critical aspects of getting ready at the plate.

[MUSIC PLAYING] - Hi, everyone, I'm joined by Miami Marlins hitting coach Mike Pagliarulo. So Mike, before we get started, what is a hitter?

MIKE PAGLIARULO: Well, a hitter for me is basically three things. Hitting is physical, which is the technical part of it. But it's a learned skill so there's point of reference that you must execute, just like all the great successful ones have in the major leagues. And then there's the other part, which is the psychological.

You have to know who's throwing the ball today and where is he throwing the ball? He's doing in, out, he's doing a lot of breaker balls, a lot of fast balls. And then there's the last part, which is really the most important, is the spiritual or the commitment, which is the glue that brings it all together. And that's what you play with. So that's what a hitter is those three points.

- Part of situational hitting is bunting. When you're trying to put down that sacrifice bunt, can you show us? Where is your bat supposed to be? Where are you supposed to take that pitch?

MIKE PAGLIARULO: If you're back in your stance, if you had your back in your stance and get your eyes close to the barrel, you could see the ball better and you can control it a lot better. Plus, it's easier when it's inside, you just get out of the way.

Because you always want to get out of the way this way. You never want to get out of the way this way, back the other way. You can get hurt really bad.

The safe way to bunt is really is just get in a comfortable position where your head is in the middle of your stance and your eyes close to the barrel. The closer they are, the better you have control.

Hitting is a violent action. So you need to be violent. But you have to do it in a calm way. You have to be relaxed. You also have to move well, have to move quickly.

And you have so much time, 0.4 seconds or something to even see the ball, identify what pitch it is, and then start your swing. So being aggressive, it has to be a controlled aggression. And having a plan getting up there is real, real important to hitting. If you don't have a plan-- because he's got, he's got a plan, the pitcher does. And he's got the ball. So I better have something ready for him.

One rule that's a good rule is when they do their practice, just keep your eyes on contact. You know, a lot of guys want to see where that ball goes. And your eyes record everything. I want you to record what you're actually doing. Because the best thing in the world for a coach is when a player can get here, understand exactly what happened during that swing.

Now he's coaching himself. And then that means I've done a decent job. So, you know, if he needs me all the time, then I'm not doing a good job.

Every hitter that I know that have played the major leagues, when they get in there, they just block out everything else and they focus on the pitcher and nothing else matters. You can't think about two things and hit. I've tried it and it doesn't work.

- So we have several different colors on the mat. What do they stand for?

MIKE PAGLIARULO: They stand for depth, where you make contact with baseball. We use colors as a lane. We also use numbers. We use pictures, whatever that player wants, you know, whatever he relates to, whatever he can attach his mind to, that's what we use.

- If I wanted to use this mat to practice my hitting, how would I go about doing it?

MIKE PAGLIARULO: Well, let's say you come in the cage and you want to hit the ball the other way, all right? You feel like you're out in front and you're looping the ball. That ball is going in the air. You're not hitting line drives the other way.

So I'd ask you to get in here, get in your stance, make your stride, and then I'm going to flip balls to you. And I want you to make contact with the ball over this lane right here. So take your swing right here, OK, and make contact right there. So the ball is going to go to the opposite field, exactly, right?

So every ball I throw, whether it's in or out, I want you to make contact there. So now you-- you're using your discipline, you're practicing where you want to hit the ball. Your swing could be absolutely fine. If you hit the ball out in front, OK, it's going to be underneath and cut across the ball. And it's not your swing that's bad. It's just, you made contact in the wrong place. So as a hitter, you have to know, is it my swing that's off or did I just have bad discipline where I made contact with the ball.

- So a very important thing to know as a hitter is when to hit the ball. Let the ball travel back in the zone. And that way, you can stay through it and hit it the other way.

MIKE PAGLIARULO: Perfect.

- Final thoughts for the kids out there watching, what's something that you think they should really focus on?

MIKE PAGLIARULO: Well, if they're confused, they should ask questions. I think when they're hitting, the most important thing, as far as I'm concerned, is keeping your eyes on contact. I mean, the longer you keep your eyes on contact, the better it is. You know, I find that with all successful hitters.

So no matter what you're doing, you can control where your eyes go every single day. You know, maybe some days your mechanics might not be right, but your eyes can always be right on contact. That would be the most important thing to me.

- Keep your eye on the ball, guys. You say it for a reason. Thanks, thanks so much for joining us.

MIKE PAGLIARULO: Thank you.

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