Q&A: with Keith Hernandez about David Wright

Hitting Slice

Matthew Cerrone: I often hear you and Ralph Kiner talking during broadcasts about a particular hitter’s stance, or you’ll both agree or disagree about what he should instead be doing. I would assume a hitting coach is seeing those same things and pointing them to the player, mechanically, right?

Keith Hernandez: Ralph stood on top the plate, so he believes everyone should be on top of the plate. But, not every hitter is capable or comfortable doing that. Every hitter is different. So, I know what we say in the booth, but every hitter is different and some guys don’t like doing certain things and you can’t force them to do that. Now, if you continue to be unable to cover the outside corner – like a couple of our hitters – well, you better move up, you better get closer to the plate.

Matthew Cerrone: The guy I think of is David Wright. It’s frustrating for us, because I still think of him as that very selective, two-strike hitter, the guy going the other way, like when he entered the league, slapping doubles, but he’s striking out so much more lately. He’s still producing, no question, but it’s just odd to me that he’s striking out more as he enters his prime. However, my question is: Do you think he can be helped by hitting the disabled list, stepping away from the game for a bit and just watching and thinking and reflecting on where he’s at? Can the DL be a good breather?

Keith Hernandez: Well, certainly, but you don’t know how it will translate for him. I don’t have a crystal ball. David has gotten in to some very bad habits over the last four years. Yes, I think this back injury has affected him, but he’s had a lot of years prior to the back injury where he’s had a lot more swing and misses. He got ‘home run happy,’ and with that bigger ballpark you get fly-outs on your scorecard – and there’s the lack of making adjustments. He’s gotten in to bad habits and it’s hard to break them. He now has an upper-cut swing. Sure, when he connects and hits it perfect it’s going to go out – and maybe it won’t in Citi Field. But, there is such a big margin of error now in his swing that he doesn’t catch up with fastball and he hits fly balls. He’s got to do something to break that habit. He goes the other way. Actually, I think he hits the other way too much. Now, he seems fixated on it. He needs to learn to look in and pull the ball once in a while.