When the San Diego Padres acquired Carlos Quentin in a trade with the Chicago White Sox in the off-season, many baseball folks wondered if the pitcher-friendly confines of San Diego’s PETCO Park would precipitate an offensive decline for the power-hitting outfielder.
Regarded as a dead-pull power hitter, Quentin hit fly balls 52 percent of the time he made contact in 2011, and 19 of his 24 home runs were either down the left-field line or to straightaway left field, according to ESPN’s Fantasy Projection for Quentin.
When tracking a fly ball, keep the ball in front of your nose, says Carlos Quentin.
That’s a problem in PETCO, because the fences in left field range from four to 26 feet deeper than the ones in Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field, which means many of Quentin’s deep fly balls could turn into long outs in San Diego.
All of that means nothing to Quentin, who says, “I’ve always had the approach of hitting first and staying within myself, [and] I’ve found that to be most ideal to produce power.” The real challenge for Quentin will be adjusting to a new position defensively. The Padres are shifting him from right to left field, where he’ll be forced to cover that extra ground in spacious PETCO Park.
When we visited with Quentin at the Padres’ spring training facility in Peoria, Ariz., he was putting in extra work in the outfield, tracking fly balls hit down the line and into foul territory.
The 2011 All-Star offered one simple tip for making an out on the run: keep the ball in front of your nose. He says, “There’s going to be some extra movement on the ball, and sometimes the ball comes back to you as an outfielder. If you’re sprinting after the ball and you’re not aware of where the ball is in direction with your body, there’s a chance you’ll overrun the ball and, unfortunately, make an error.”
Running with the ball in front of your nose will prevent you from overrunning the ball, he says, and if the ball comes back, you’re in a good position to stop and change direction to make the play.
Three more tips from Quentin for tracking fly balls toward the foul line:
- Do not take your eyes off ball
- Keep your feet moving and always be prepared to change directions
- Watch the ball all the way into your glove
Quentin: “I do this drill two to three times per week during the season just to remind myself there are different elements in every ball park, and I need to be prepared.”
His Closing Thought: “These are balls that could be foul or fair, but they need to be caught.”
Read more 2012 MLB Spring Training” posts.
Photo: Layne Murdoch