Results tagged ‘ Von Joshua ’
The Cubs will bring their entire coaching staff back for 2010 with the exception of hitting coach Von Joshua. GM Jim Hendry says Joshua didn’t do anything wrong, but there wasn’t significant improvement. That, Hendry said, prompted him to look for someone else.
Joshua, who was the Triple-A Iowa hitting coach, had taken over the big league job on June 14, replacing Gerald Perry, who was fired.
“There’s no blame to be handed out,” Hendry said. “We had a lot of guys who didn’t swing the bats like they’re capable of. When Von came up, we were scuffling, and we never made a lot of progress in the same areas that we were deficient in the first half.”
The Cubs finished with a team .255 batting average, 12th in the National League. They struggled this season to deliver with runners in scoring position, and scored 707 runs. Last year, the Cubs led the NL with 855 runs scored.
– Carrie Muskat
Cubs hitting coach Von Joshua said he learned a lot from his lunch with Kosuke Fukudome’s hitting coach, Kyosuke Sasaki. The two talked hitting on Tuesday, and Sasaki planned on giving Joshua and the Cubs a check list of things to watch for regarding Fukudome’s swing. Japanese pitchers throw more offspeed pitches than those in the U.S. Major Leagues, and that’s been an adjustment. Sasaki, who has been in uniform, wearing No. 53, since joining the team Monday in Philly, planned on accompanying the Cubs to Chicago.
– Carrie Muskat
Lou Piniella has grown weary of questions about the offense, or lack of, and suggested Wednesday that the media ask the Cubs’ hitting coach. So, Von Joshua, what’s going on?
“To me, a lot of it is guys putting a lot of added pressure on themselves,” Joshua said after the Cubs’ 4-1 loss to the Braves. “The big thing I’m seeing is guys are — maybe unconciously or what — but everybody’s trying to hit the ball out of the ballpark. I’m trying to stress to them that you don’t have to hit the ball out of the ballpark to score runs.”
The Cubs seemed to be trying to pull the ball against Atlanta’s Kenshin Kawakami, who spotted his pitches on the outside part of the plate.
“I’m just trying to get the guys to relax and hit the ball where it’s pitched and not try to pull everything,” Joshua said. “That’s the biggest thing I see is that guys are in a ‘lift and separate’ mode. They should be thinking back to the middle and take what the pitcher is giving them.”
It’s one thing to make suggestions and look at video. It’s another to get them to execute.
“I can’t go hit for them,” Joshua said. “All I can do is give them the message. These are big league guys and some of them are making a lot of money. I show them on the video what’s going on, I show them their mechanics. You’ve got to execute. The thing I see right now is guys aren’t making the adjustments. Pitchers are doing a certain thing to them and they’re not adjusting to what pitchers are doing to them.”
Two players who seem to be out of sync are Milton Bradley (.236) and Alfonso Soriano (.230). The crowds at Wrigley Field have let both of them know their displeasure.
“[Bradley] is a proud guy, he and Soriano,” Joshua said. “I think the booing might affect them a little bit. They also realize they have to produce.”
Joshua thought Bradley had made progress during the Cubs’ series in Detroit, especially from the left side. But he sees the switch-hitter reverting back to bad habits. What Bradley is doing is starting off open with the lower half of his body, but he’s closed with his upper half. That doesn’t work.
“What happens is he dives with his foot toward the plate, and his upper body continues to turn even more,” Joshua said. “You can read his whole name on his back before he starts his rotation. You can’t hit like that.”
And yes, Joshua and others have pointed it out to Bradley and he is aware of it.
“What I’m trying to do is get him to either match his upper half to his lower half, or match his lower half to his upper half and have everything work as one unit,” Joshua said. “What’s happening now, is when he dives with his lower half and closes with his upper half, he can’t see the pitch.”
Switch-hitters can’t match their left side swing with their right. They’re two different swings, Joshua said.
“If you notice, he’s a lot slower and doesn’t jump at the ball as much from his right side,” Joshua said. “He thinks he’s going to be late maybe [from the left side] but, in essence, that slows you up even more. That’s what he’s fighting right now.”
The Cubs have 80 games to go. Can Joshua turn things around?
“I’m not in the batter’s box,” he said. “All I can do is try to keep them upbeat and show them what’s going on with their mechanics. Here again, it’s a mindset. It’s a battle. You get in that batter’s box, it’s you and the pitcher, you and the ball. You have to go up there and fight. They all know what they’re doing wrong — each and every one of them.”
If Derrek Lee doesn’t get his front foot down in time, he has trouble. Same with Soriano. Micah Hoffpauir’s swing can get too long.
“I think Soriano will come out of it,” Joshua said. “I’m a little concerned about Milton from his left side. He needs to relax and just try to let things come to him and not try to force the issue. You can’t expect D-Lee to do it every game.”
The return of Aramis Ramirez should help. Fukudome has looked better since he was moved into the leadoff spot.
“We just have to get ourselves clicking,” Joshua said. “Above all, they just need to not think they have to hit a home run every pitch. If they’re good line drive hitters and relax, I think they’ll come out of it.”
– Carrie Muskat
Von Joshua may be having a good effect already. The Cubs new hitting coach has been stressing to players to hit the ball to the opposite field. Alfonso Soriano did just that with his walkoff RBI single in the ninth Thursday and Derrek Lee’s three-run homer in the eighth also was to right. Lou Piniella said hitters are trying to stay with the ball a little longer, make better contact. Soriano didn’t blame former coach Gerald Perry for his problems at the plate.
“Whatever happened to me is not because of the hitting coach,” said Soriano, who was batting .141 in 23 games prior to Thursday. “Every player has a tough time in this game. I’ve been working with [Joshua] and I think he wants to help me a lot. I have confidence in him.”
* Reed Johnson got things started in the ninth with his pinch-hit leadoff single. He didn’t see Soriano’s hit. Johnson had his head down and was running hard.
“It was an awkward high five at home plate,” Johnson said. “I was going pretty fast and [Ryan] Theriot wouldn’t get out of my way. I didn’t even hear the crowd roar until I got like two or three steps around. I was just listening to see if the ball had fallen or not. I got my head down and I was running on the swing.”
The six runs by the Cubs in the 6-5 win over the White Sox were the most since they scored seven on June 9.
“If it was another 2-1 or 1-0 victory, it’d be different,” Johnson said. “We’d be thinking, well, our offense hasn’t showed up. We showed up today. It took us a while but we were able to get some runs off some really tough pitchers in [Scott] Linebrink and [Matt] Thornton. I think we did a pretty good job late in the game.”
It was the Cubs’ 13th come from behind win and ninth win in their last at-bat.
* Carlos Zambrano did not get a decision but did notch his eighth quality start. He gave up six hits, walked three and struck out three over seven innings.
“How can you fault a pitcher for giving you seven good innings of work?” Lou Piniella said.
The Cubs need to pick it up.
“It’s almost the middle of the season and we need to start turning our engine on and start playing better,” Zambrano said.
* Geovany Soto stole the first base of his career in the fourth. His only other attempt was Sept. 20, 2008, against St. Louis.
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs fired hitting coach Gerald Perry on Sunday and will promote Triple-A Iowa hitting coach Von Joshua to take over the job. Joshua will join the Cubs Monday, and be in uniform for Tuesday’s Interleague game between the Cubs and White Sox.
The Cubs were ranked 13th in the National League in hitting with a .246 average, well below last year’s numbers. They led the NL in runs in 2008, but are 14th this season.
“Obviously, we’ve been struggling for a long time,” Hendry said. “I’m not one to dump all the blame on coaches. I’ve never made a coaching change to my knowledge in the middle of the year. I think sometimes you need a different voice.
“Von has had a lot of success with our guys on the way up,” he said. “We have really, really struggled offensively for reasons way beyond Aramis [Ramirez] being gone for awhile. Every day, we have five guys in the lineup who have played in the All-Star Game. For whatever reason, they are not performing anywhere close to where they’ve performed in their careers. Sometimes you have to try something different, and sometimes it’s a different voice maybe saying the same things.
“I never feel good about a coach taking the blame for the failures of our ballclub,” he said.
Perry was at Wrigley Field on Sunday, and taking part in batting practice when he was called off the field around 11 a.m. CT and into the clubhouse to talk to Hendry.
Joshua is in his fourth year at Iowa, and has been a hitting coach since 1984.
“He’s got a good way about him and probably a different approach,” Hendry said. “He’s done very well with us at Triple-A.”
– Carrie Muskat