After a joyous reunion with Tony La Russa in St. Louis,
and a successful first year as the hitting coach of his beloved Cardinals, the
man know to millions as simply “Big Mac” is hard at work getting the redbirds’
speedy young guns ready to battle for the National League Central crown.
The drama continues between the Cardinals’ coaching staff
and 24-year-old outfielder Colby Rasmus, who fancies himself as a power hitter
— a 30-homer guy who just happens to steal bases. McGwire and St. Louis Manager Tony La Russa
have been counseling Rasmus to try to become a more gap-to-gap type of batter
and to use his legs to produce runs.
McGwire’s off-season regiment for Rasmus – and for the
entire team – is to slim down, lighten up on the weight training and work on
their fast-twitch leg muscles.
According to Tony Rasmus, father of Colby and highly
successful high school baseball coach in Alabama: “Colby has been working on
spraying the ball around the field this off season via the Big Mac approach. He hasn’t
been lifting, since the plan is to be a slap hitter so there is no need for the
added muscle. The goal I hear is for Colby to bat .300 and hit more ground balls and line
drives the other way.”
While it’s odd to discourage any young hitter from trying
to drive the ball deep, Rasmus has struggled with high strikeout numbers and
has posted some rather alarming fly ball rates in his first two major league
seasons. In 2010, he had the 11th-highest fly ball percentage in the game,
lofting batted balls 48.6% of the time.
McGwire and La Russa are probably thinking that a more
contact-minded approach at the plate will help Rasmus become a better