It’s a tight game, early in the season. The bases are loaded with one out and the 3-hitter is at the plate. He has been aggressive early in the count all game.
The pitcher delivers the first pitch. Eager to cash in on some RBIs, the hitter takes a big cut. As he swings, he realizes something is not right. Instead of timing the fastball up perfectly, the hitter is out in front of the change-up. Instead of swinging through it, he gives a butt-out swing and taps the ball back to the pitcher, who starts the 1-2-3 double play to end the inning and the threat. The hitter goes back to the dugout. Frustrated, he punches the dugout wall. He gets his glove and goes to the outfield to play defense. He’s warming up when he notices that his hand is throbbing like never before.
The game continues and the hitter’s team ends up winning the game after scoring 6 runs in the last 4 innings. However, after coming in from defense in the 5th inning, the 3-hitter takes off his glove and realizes that his hand is so swollen and bruised that he can’t even close it. He tries to grip a bat but can’t. His coach has to take him out of the game. Following the game, x-rays indicate that he has a broken hand and will be out 6-8 weeks.
What Went Wrong?
Several things went wrong is this situation. The hitter’s assumption that a first-pitch fastball was coming was one, but we’ll talk more about that and the swing adjustment in a future post. The frustrated punch to the dugout and resulting injury are far more important to discuss here.
There are two things that you can always control on the baseball field—hustle and attitude. The most successful college baseball players are able to maintain a good attitude throughout the ups and downs of a season. As part of a team, you always have to remember how your actions will impact others, especially your own teammates. Baseball is a game where players experience a lot of failure, and keeping your emotions in check through slumps and struggles is just as important as having a mechanically sound swing or delivery.
In this case, the 3-hitter let his emotions get the best of him. Instead of getting ready for his next at bat or turning his attention to his defense, he let his lack of control cost not only him, but his team, dearly. Don’t be the guy who has to apologize to coaches and teammates for a “stupid mistake.” You owe it to yourself and your teammates to stay under control even when you are struggling. There are enough injuries throughout the season that come from playing the game hard. Don’t add to this list with a frustrated mistake. Remember, there’s always a next pitch or next at bat. Make sure you’re ready to make the most of it.