Chase Good At Bats: Brandon Belt's hitting mantra helps Toronto Blue Jays bats

·3 min read

TORONTO — Don't chase pitches, chase good at bats has become a mantra around the Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse.

Catcher Danny Jansen said it in a post-game scrum after he had two home runs in Toronto's 7-0 rout of the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday and then Blue Jays manager John Schneider repeated it the next morning.

But its origins trace back to veteran outfielder Brandon Belt, who said it to Jansen when the two were talking about hitting during a homestand in mid-April.

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"It's just sometimes you forget the most simple things in baseball," said Belt outside his locker at Rogers Centre. "It's not that other people don't know that, it's just that sometimes people need to be reminded.

"I've been through it so much now that I tend to remember it a little bit more. I think that when you can have that outside voice to remind you every now and then it definitely helps. I need it. I need it sometimes too. We all need it."

The 35-year-old Belt spent the first 12 seasons of his Major League Baseball career in San Francisco, winning two World Series with the Giants. He signed a one-year deal with the Blue Jays worth US$9.3 million in January, adding some outfield depth and an experienced veteran voice to Toronto's clubhouse.

He said the idea of "chasing good at bats" has been drilled into him since his time in San Francisco's minor league system.

"It doesn't really just stick with you right away because you're trying to get hits, you want to get into the big leagues," said Belt. "That's something that they try to drive into your head early on: quality at bats.

"But throughout my big league career, I've had to be reminded so much that it's starting to stick a little bit after 10-plus years."

During a conversation with reporters in his office, Schneider said that what he likes about Belt's advice is that, ultimately, it's selfless.

"When you're chasing good at bats it means you're trying to help the team win and if that's your singular focus, good things are usually going to happen," said Schneider. "Don't press. You're not going to go from hitting whatever you're hitting to .280 in one day.

"You've got to just continue to grind and continue to try to help your team win."

Belt was pleased to hear his team's skipper agreeing with him, saying that a good at bat is about more than just getting a hit.

"You drive up the guy's pitch count. I think it frustrates the pitchers. Maybe you can get into the bullpen a little bit earlier. You may draw a walk," said Belt. "Whatever it is, you're helping the team out.

"Sometimes when you go out there and you start chasing hits around and trying to force the issue you're not helping yourself and you're not helping your team."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 27, 2023.

John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press