Starling Marte’s sudden success at plate for Pirates all part of plan
Starling Marte’s sudden hitting surge might coincide with his drop to the third spot in the batting order, but the Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder isn’t crediting that switch for his success.
Instead, it’s a behind-the-scenes move.
“What’s working out for me is working with the hitting coach and going to the plate with a plan,” Marte said Thursday through interpreter Mike Gonzalez, referring to Pirates hitting coaches Rick Eckstein and Jacob Cruz. “I’m going up with a way more aggressive mentality. I’m going up there to get on base.”
After slashing .253/.296/.447 in 34 games batting second this season, Marte is slashing .375/.426/.536 in the 13 games since Clint Hurdle moved him from second to third in the lineup May 25. That includes seven multihit games, with Marte getting four in 13 innings against Milwaukee and three against the Dodgers, Brewers and Braves. Marte has three doubles, two home runs and seven RBIs, as well as a pair of stolen bases in that stretch.
“You see he’s stealing bases every day. He’s playing hard and getting three hits every day,” Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco said. “I love watching him play. He’s so much fun to watch.”
That’s especially true from the base paths, as rookie outfielder Bryan Reynolds is learning. Since Reynolds took over the No. 2 spot in the order, he has found being on the bases with Marte at bat can be as strenuous as it is enjoyable.
“I know I’m going to have to run hard,” Reynolds said, “because he’s going to hit it in the gaps.”
Marte also credited the cohesion with Polanco and Reynolds for his spike.
“There’s definitely a connection,” Marte said. “It rises from the communication. We are constantly communicating with each other, talking after each at-bat about what we saw so we’re better equipped and better prepared.”
It’s all part of his plan to attack pitchers from the plate.
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .