After the first 10 games of this season, it appeared that nobody in the Phillies organization, with the exception of publicity director John Brazier, had an easier job than hitting instructor Milt Thompson.
The Phillies were averaging an off-the-charts 7.7 runs per contest, which helped propel the team to an 8-2 start.
“This won’t last forever, Charlie Manuel said at the time. “Hitting comes and goes.”
Of course, the Phillies bats cooled but some were surprised that their sticks became as frigid as they were smoldering. The Phillies averaged just three runs over their next 10 games.
“That’s the way it goes,” Thompson said. “It ebbs and flows. We started strong, cooled off and then we found ourselves again. These guys are good players, some of the best in the game. Look at our lineup from top to bottom, it’s pretty dynamic. They know how to hit.”
Since many of the Phillies hitters are among the most highly regarded in the game, what does Thompson contribute?
“I try to keep them focused day in and day out,” Thompson said. “I help them focus on the (starting) pitcher they’re facing. I remind them of what they need to do. It’s not a difficult bunch to deal with.”
Shane Victorino stressed that the Phillies hitters benefit from the comfort level with Thompson. “We’re very much in sync with Milt,” Victorino said. “We know what to expect from him. He’s direct. There’s no surprises and he’s been here ever since I’ve been here in ’05.”
Cardinals hitting coach Mark McGwire, who guides two of the most feared bats in the game, Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday, concurs with Thompson.
“Philly has some of the finest hitters in the game. His (Thompson’s) job is similar to mine. Sometimes these guys get out of whack and you give your input. But he (Thompson) and I are out there mostly to monitor them and watch greatness.”