DENVER (CBS4) – It was a pretty bold move by the Rockies in replacing former hitting coach Don Baylor. Baylor was very popular in the clubhouse — maybe too popular. They wanted someone with a little more edge.
Enter Carney Lansford — a no-nonsense guy, a former batting champion, and a hitting coach who takes his job very seriously.
Lansford’s not afraid to speak his mind and he has no doubt that his way works — that a good Major League hitter who listens to him and works hard will become even better.
“Use the whole field, foul line to foul line and have a two-strike approach, put the ball into play and not jump out and chase bad pitches,” Lansford said of his philosophy.
Lansford doesn’t believe in coddling his students. The first-year hitting coach made that clear from the very beginning.
“I told them from Day 1, with the backing of Dan O’Dowd and Jim Tracy, that if you’re not on board with what we’re doing here, you won’t be here very long; that’s the bottom line,” Lansford said.
Hitters have bought in because they know that Lansford’s system works. Many of the players worked with him when he was their hitting coach in Colorado Springs back in 2007.
“I had some success with him in AAA when he was the hitting coach,” Seth Smith said.
Smith said it’s tough love when it comes to Lansford.
Carlos Gonzalez is the defending National League batting champion, but Lansford believes he can make Gonzalez even better.
“I don’t stay away from Carlos at all, he’s a young player still, I won a batting title at a young age; in fact I hit exactly what Carlos hit,” Lansford said. “Just because you win a batting title doesn’t mean that you stop working and you don’t stay disciplined, so I say things to Cargo once in a while and he’s very good about it; he’s great.”
“Everybody’s just showing up early and working on their swing; try to concentrate before every at-bat; that’s how you get progress,” Gonzalez said. “You want to stay focused the whole year and you don’t want to waste any at-bats. That’s why he’s right next to you, to remind you about that.”
“He brings a toughness to us, watching him as a player, we all know how tough he was and obviously the numbers speak for themselves with the batting title and things like that; so right there you walk into a room and you gain that guy’s respect,” shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. “You’re all ears and you listen to him and you take what you can from him.”
Lansford was the hitting coach for the San Francisco Giants in 2008 and 2009, He had the same philosophy then that he does now — but there was a major difference.
“We had a lot of guys who were really AAA quality hitters, and not all AAA hitters can hit major league pitchers,” Lansford said. “To be honest, I thought the hitters I had in 2007 at Colorado Springs overall were much better than what I had in the big leagues with the Giants.”
Lansford says he has a lot more talent now with the Rockies.
“These guys are legitimate Major League players.”
So far Lansford’s pupils are doing just fine, using the whole field and having quality at-bats.