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    Default Struggle to switch-hit

    Pirates minor-leaguers struggle to switch-hit
    By Rob Biertempfel, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
    Friday, March 26, 2010

    [IMGL]http://i44.tinypic.com/123kxsx.jpg[/IMGL]

    BRADENTON, Fla. -- With three switch-hitters likely to make their 25-man roster - catchers Ryan Doumit and Jason Jaramillo and utility guy Delwyn Young - the Pirates fall in line with the major-league average of 13 percent of players who bat from both sides.

    The reason there aren't more switch-hitters is simple - it's a tough skill to master for major-leaguers, and it's even more difficult for prospects still struggling to get to the bigs.

    "It is extremely challenging, especially when you consider how tough hitting is in general," Pirates director of player development Kyle Stark said. "Rarely are the two sides similar, which makes it tougher as well.

    "Basically, the hitter must get half as much work in as everyone else on both sides, or work twice as long in order to get equal work for both sides. Hitting is said to be the hardest thing to do in sports, so mastering it from two sides is even harder."

    Gift Ngoepe, a Pirates minor-league infielder, can attest to that. He began tinkering with switch-hitting before he signed with the Pirates. A year and a half later, Ngoepe is still learning the process.

    "At first, it was very difficult," Ngoepe said. "Whatever type of (pitch) comes, you just want to swing. Sometimes, you're way forward on a changeup or way behind a fastball. Sometimes, you're not balanced -- and you fall over."

    Ngoepe paused and grinned.

    "It's been pretty interesting so far."

    Pirates infield prospect Neil Walker began switch-hitting when he was 12 years old. Hanging out with friends in backyards and batting cages, Walker took some hacks from the left side. He was surprised to find he actually was pretty good at it.

    During his first two years at Pine-Richland High School, Walker switch-hit every now and then, but he always hit righty in clutch situations. But by his junior year, when college coaches and pro scouts began eyeing him, Walker switch-hit all the time.

    "I did know that switch-hitting was a big commodity," Walker said. "That helped me stay with it, even though it was very frustrating."

    Patience is perhaps the most valuable trait for any switch-hitter.

    "There's times when you'll go 20 at-bats and you won't see a left-handed pitcher," Walker said. "Then, all of the sudden, in the eighth inning of a close game, you'll have to jump over to the other side."

    All hitters go through streaks and slumps. A switch-hitter can have one of each going at the same time.

    "Actually, at the moment, my left-handed swing is looking better than my right-handed (swing)," said Ngoepe, a natural righty. "I'm hitting more line drives, and I'm making better contact left-handed. From my right side, I've got power. Left-handed, it's more spray the ball and go gap-to-gap."

    Ngoepe said the batter's box is the only place he's ambidextrous. He does everything in daily life -- sign his name, brush his teeth, eat cornflakes -- with his right hand. Walker said he's the same way.

    Well, almost.

    "I play hockey left-handed, that's about it," Walker said. "I golf right-handed and play hockey left-handed. That's kind of strange."

    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_673432.html
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Struggle to switch-hit

    i don't think i could have come up with a more boring fluff article if just copied and pasted something out of the encyclopedia.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Struggle to switch-hit

    Fluff or whatever...............still interesting!

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