GOODYEAR, AZ. — Chelsea Cozart was exasperated and her husband, Zack, says she was probably happy to see him pack his gear and walk out the door to go to spring training.
Cozart spent a large part of the winter watching video of his at-bats on his iPad or on a laptop computer.
The video was of Cozart’s 2014 at bats and they weren’t Academy Awards stuff because his Season At Home Plate was strictly B-roll.
Whenever Cozart detected what he did wrong, he would call Chelsea to the iPad or the computer and say, "Look at this. See this? Can you see what I was doing wrong. You see how you can see this?
"She would say, ‘Yes,’ but she finally told me, ‘I’m sick of looking at those,’ because I would even freeze frame them," Cozart said with a laugh.
Cozart hit only .221 last year with four homers and 38 RBI, a severe dip from 2013 when he hit .254 with 12 homers and 68 RBI.
He played videos side-by-side of 2013, when he did it right, with 2014 video, when he did it all wrong, "And 95 per cent of the time I could see it was one little thing I was doing wrong."
And it took him only two days after the season ended for him to discover the problem — a minor mechanical flaw. But minor mechanical flaws at home plate turn into major hitting disorders.
"There is no secret that I struggled," he said. "The year before I ended the season so strong that I was confident going into the off-season. This year I had to rest my body but I had to look at video to find that one little thing. And I did."
It was just two days after season’s end when Cozart had the shazam moment as he watched himself. "One little thing," he said. "I saw I needed to turn my shoulder a little bit more to get my load, load up my swing.
"I tell everybody that, ‘No, I haven’t hit .300 in the big leagues, but I have had two years in a row where I had 30 doubles and double-digit home runs,’" he said. "That’s what I want to get back to this year. I know I can do it because I’ve done it, proved I can do it. My problem is something I can easily fix."
One wonders why Cozart didn’t catch the flaw during the course of the season and he says, "Yeah, it was frustrating that I didn’t catch it. But I had so many things on my mind, wondering why I was hitting .220 and wondering where my power was.
"And as a team we weren’t playing well. We weren’t winning so I was thinking more about myself because I wanted to help the team win as much as possible," he said.
Through all the dismalness of his offense, Cozart never strayed from his Gold Glove-like defense at shortstop and never once permitted it to take away his enthusiasm over winning.
"I pride myself on helping the team win and probably the best compliment I ever had came from (hitting coach) Don Long," said Cozart. "He told me, ‘I love you out there not because of any of your baseball talents but because even if you go 0 for 4 you have a smile on your face if we won the game.’ I’m all about winning."
Cozart is confident this year’s team will win, despite the lack of respect being shown the Reds going into the season.
"I can feel the excitement around the team," he said. "People are not giving us much attention or credit and we like that. We’re healthy now. We’re really excited to prove people wrong. We have a lot of guys, me included, who want to prove themselves. Last year? Just a down year."
It was a down year for the Reds and a down year for Cozart. But maybe if the Reds win and if Cozart rebounds he can take Chelsea out to a five-star restaurant and to an Academy Award-winning move instead of making her watch videos of his at-bats — over and over and over again.