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OC Register: Angels’ catcher Max Stassi says his hitting has been ‘a disaster,’ so he’s ready to make changes


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HOUSTON — Max Stassi could not hide from the disappointing offensive numbers he’s produced in his first three weeks with the Angels, and he’s ready to do something about it.

“Offensively, it’s been a disaster for me,” Stassi said. “This isn’t who I am as a player and not who I visualize myself being. I am ready to make some serious adjustments to be the player I want to be. It’s not going to be easy, but I’m ready to take that next step and hopefully I’ll elevate my game.”

Stassi, 28, was acquired in a trade with the Houston Astros at the July 31 deadline. The Angels got him mostly for his defense, and in that respect they say they are satisfied.

However, he has just three singles in his first 35 at-bats with the Angels, with 13 strikeouts. Albeit in a small sample, Stassi has not even approached the .218 average and .652 OPS he produced in 390 at-bats with the Astros.

This week, Stassi said he and the Angels hitting coaches have planned a retooling of his offensive game.

“Swing, approach, everything honestly,” Stassi said.

Stassi said he’s still early in the process and couldn’t even pinpoint exactly what needs to change, but he has acknowledged the need to do something different.

“There are times you need to get uncomfortable in the box,” Stassi said. “Sometimes being comfortable isn’t a good thing. It’s time to make some changes and see what happens. I have faith it will pay off over time, and it’s not going to be easy, but it’s one of those things I have to do.

“I have to break down some barriers and try to get some things right. There’s not a magic pill that I can take and everything is going to be fine. It will be a lot of hard work, ups and downs, and we’ll go from there.”

While the Angels wait for Stassi to produce more at the plate, they believe his most important role is working with the pitchers. To that end, Manager Brad Ausmus is satisfied.

“He’s done a nice job,” Ausmus said. “He works well with the pitchers. He’s very prepared. He cares. He understands that his impact in the catcher’s box is greater than his impact in the batter’s box, which I think applies to the vast majority of catchers unless they are an extreme offensive catcher. The whole receiving metric is really good with him. I would say he’s been a huge plus defensively.”

OHTANI UPDATE

Shohei Ohtani threw a 35-pitch bullpen session, continuing to throw his fastball, slider and curve at increased intensity. He has not yet thrown his splitter.

“He looked good,” Ausmus said. “He threw his curveball and slider. He looked good. He looked free and easy.”

Ohtani also was greeted by an addition to the Minute Maid Park visitors clubhouse on Saturday. Noted baseball artist Opie Otterstad just finished a new painting showing Ohtani as a hitter and a pitcher. Otterstad has been commissioned by teams and players all over the majors to do paintings, and they hang all around the ballparks.

“It’s great,” Ohtani said of the painting.

ALSO

The Angels activated Kevan Smith, who had been on the injured list with back spasms. Anthony Bemboom was optioned to make room…

Keynan Middleton “looked good” and was throwing 94-96 mph during his rehab outing on Friday night, Ausmus said. Middleton, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, is scheduled to pitch again on Sunday, and then the Angels will have a decision on activating him, Ausmus said…

Justin Anderson threw for the first time since going on the injured list with a right upper trap strain on Aug. 12…

Andrelton Simmons recorded a video message to the Curaçao Little League team, which advanced to play for the Little League World Series title on Sunday. Curaçao beat Japan to reach the final, a game that was the subject of discussion between Simmons and Ohtani.

UP NEXT

Angels (RHP Jaime Barría, 4-6, 6.35) at Astros (LHP Framber Valdez, 3-6, 5.58), 11:10 a.m., Fox Sports West

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I just don't understand why catchers are such bad hitters. you'd think they'd have an incredible advantage by seeing so many pitches from their position and be able to recognize spin and whatever else. it seems that that they should absolutely be better hitters by virtue of the sheer number of pitches they get to see.

@Jeff Fletcher can you shed some light on this?

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7 hours ago, Angelsjunky said:

Remember back in spring when Lucroy said he made some changes and figured out what was wrong the last couple years?

I was fine with his offense.  It wasn't very good but still better than last year and I was expecting him to defend and handle the staff well.  Something that he did a horrendous job of doing.  Every part of his game sucked for us this year across the board.  

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10 hours ago, Angelsjunky said:

Remember back in spring when Lucroy said he made some changes and figured out what was wrong the last couple years?

It worked for awhile. .370/.339/.441/.780 his first two months, 44 games, 168 PA. 15 walks, 23 strikeouts, .279 BAbip...all was working. 

Then he went 1 for 32 in ten games, part of a larger 4 for 47 slump over more than two weeks. It tanked his solid line.

Since then? He's been just fine - .313/.351/.418/.769 since June 19th, 24 games, 74 PA.
 

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18 hours ago, Tank said:

I just don't understand why catchers are such bad hitters. you'd think they'd have an incredible advantage by seeing so many pitches from their position and be able to recognize spin and whatever else. it seems that that they should absolutely be better hitters by virtue of the sheer number of pitches they get to see.

@Jeff Fletcher can you shed some light on this?

1. Defense is more important than offense for a catcher, that means the pool of players who continue to be catchers as they move up the ladder will be more defense oriented.

2. Catching is grueling physically so you can only play maybe 110-120 games a year, at most. If a player is really good offensively, they’ll move him another position so they can keep his bat in there the most. 

3. The grueling nature of it means they will get worn down and have a lot of little dings that affect their hitting. I’ve heard catchers say their vision is even affected by blows to the head. 

4. Catchers have to spend a lot of time dealing with their pitchers and watching video for that part of their job, so they don’t get to spend as much time prepping for the pitcher they will face. 

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