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Pirates players say too much review can be a bad thing

| Friday, May 6, 2011

When it comes to using video to help analyze a player's swing, especially when he's in a slump, less is definitely more.

"You can get obsessed with it," Pirates first baseman Lyle Overbay said. "There's a fine line where you're not too far off, but you think you are. You have to make sure you're not dissecting every little thing. You have to maybe find one thing and work on that."

Back when players didn't have the ability to look at every swing of every at-bat from multiple angles, they relied on asking someone else what they were seeing, manager Clint Hurdle said. Now, players can paralyze themselves with too much video to the point where Hurdle has had to tell guys to knock it off, including himself.

"(As a hitting coach, I'd watch video) long into the night, into the morning, take it with me to the hotel," Hurdle said. "I finally had to tell myself, 'you're not hitting.'

"At the end of the day, give them one thing or a couple things, then let it go, because we do have the ability to complicate things when we have some challenges, and we make more of them than what they are."

When Garrett Jones isn't hitting well, he likes to go back to video of better days.

"It could be something minor, like your foot position or hand position," Jones said. "I like to go back to 2009, when I was swinging the bat well because that's when I was feeling the most comfortable, and just try to get back to that."

Pirates hitting coach Gregg Ritchie knows that if struggling batters see their swings, they can grasp the problem. As visual as baseball has become, Ritchie shows players video of their best at-bats as a reminder of who they are and what they can do.

But he doesn't necessarily believe it's easier now to get guys out of slumps than it was before video was readily available.

"I think it depends on your feel for your swing and the mentality of your approach," Ritchie said. "That's more important than a lot of the physical aspects. I think it's just an addition to help. It helps some guys more, and some guys don't even need it."

Karen Price


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BIERTEMPFEL: Pribanic's grandfather has place in pirates history

ALTOONA — Aaron Pribanic, a right-hander at Double-A Altoona, picked up his passion for the game from his grandfather, Jim Coates, who played nine seasons in the majors.

"I'm sure that, in a lot of ways, my dream of playing baseball was rooted in his career," Pribanic said.

But it's an ironic twist that Pribanic, who was part of the Jack Wilson trade with Seattle in 2009, ended up in the Pirates' organization.

In 1960, Coates was a swingman on the New York Yankees' pitching staff. He went 13-3 in 35 outings and was named to the American League All-Star team.

That fall, Coates pitched in three World Series games — all in relief, and all in defeats — against the Pirates. He replaced starter Art Ditmar in Game 1 and allowed two runs in 32/3 innings. In Game 4, Coates tossed two scoreless innings.

In Game 7, Coates entered the game in the eighth inning. He served up Roberto Clemente's two-out single and Hal Smith's three-run homer, which gave the Pirates a 9-7 lead. The Yanks tied it in the top of the ninth, and the remainder of the game is well-documented.

Last year, The MLB Network invited Coates to its New York studios to tape a show about the '60 Series. Coates flatly refused.

"He was like, 'Why would I want to go listen to them talk about how we lost?' " Pribanic said. "You'd think an older guy would love to get back in the spotlight. But he was like, 'No way. I'm not going to go celebrate that (series).' The guys from that team are still unhappy about losing. It was cool to see his passion about that."

Rob Biertempfel

alderson rebounds as reliever

ALTOONA — Touted as a top starting prospect when he was in the San Francisco Giants' system, pitcher Tim Alderson is adjusting to his new bullpen role at Double-A Altoona.

"It's hard sometimes, coming to the ballpark every day and not knowing whether or not you're going to pitch," Alderson said. "It's all about finding a routine and getting comfortable with it."

More importantly, Alderson, 22, is trying to find comfort with a rebuilt delivery that the Pirates hope will boost his velocity.

Minor league pitching coordinator Jim Benedict said there is "big velocity" in the back side of Alderson's delivery — that is, when the right-hander brings the ball over the top and "pulls" it toward the plate.

"That's something he lost between high school and the Pirates," Benedict said.

Alderson hit 93 mph as a standout at Horizon High in Phoenix. Last year, when Alderson got hammered at Altoona and High-A Bradenton, his fastball usually topped out around 88 mph.

"Getting him to use his back side, as opposed to his front, is an ongoing process," Benedict said. "Part of that process was to make him more aggressive. So, it's shorter stints, more reps."

Through his first seven outings this year, Alderson has a 1.35 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 131/3 innings. He's also picked up 3 or 4 mph on his fastball.

"He's really taken to it — not taken to the (relief) role, but taken to the aggression part of it," Benedict said. "I'm sure he wants to start. I would like him to start at some point. But I want this to be a complete process first. Role-profiling isn't the main thing in the minor leagues."

Rob Biertempfel

Additional Information:

By the numbers

Tim Alderson's minor league stats before this season:

2008 (San Jose, High-A): 13-4 2.79 ERA, 1.094 WHIP, 7.7 SO/9 IP

2009 (San Jose, High-A): 1-1, 4.15 ERA, 1.308 WHIP, 6.9 SO/9 IP

2009 (Connecticut, Double-A): 6-1, 3.47 ERA, 1.239 WHIP, 5.7 SO/9 IP

2009 (Altoona, Double-A): 3-1, 4.66 ERA, 1.345 WHIP, 4.2 SO/9 IP

2010 (Altoona, Double-A): 7-6, 5.62 ERA, 1.550 WHIP, 5.9 SO/9 IP

2010 (Bradenton, High-A): 4-3, 6.98 ERA, 1.552 WHIP, 5.8 SO/9 IP

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