Experimental Season For Bichette
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Experimental Season For Bichette

The numbers for Dante Bichette Jr. in 2012 were not very good considering what he had accomplished in his debut season the year before. However, just like most teenagers enduring their first full season, he says it was definitely an experimental season for him in many different ways.

"It was my first full season and I definitely had a lot of things that I needed to work on during that time," he admitted. "I felt like towards the end that I figured it out and it ended up being a successful year."

Success can be a subjective term for various people. For those looking at the numbers -- .248, three home runs, 46 RBI -- it doesn't look great to the masses. However, considering many of the adjustments he had to make, there were some real positives from the year that don't show up in the normal stats column.

"Everybody wants to hit .300 and hit so many home runs but at the same time I had to keep telling myself and keep reminding myself, as with everybody else in our organization, that it's all about squaring balls up and having quality at-bats," he said.

"If you keep those numbers up, which nobody gets to see them but they're kept on the computer, that wasn't as bad as it seems."

Still, he readily admits that it was a roller coaster year of sorts. Not only statistically, seeing his average of .284 in May drop down to .173 for the month of July, but even with his approach.

Known for his rather high leg-kick a year ago, Bichette experimented with a few different stances over the course of the year to figure out what worked best for him.

"As far as the leg kick goes that's just timing," he said. "You can leg kick, you can knee tuck, and you can tap. For each one of those [timing stances] there's a great hitter that hits a different way.

"That's just timing and you can do it each and every way, which I did throughout this season. I did all three of those.

"I felt most comfortable with the knee tuck because it was less wasted movement and I felt like it was more efficient.

"Especially after you've played 80 games and you still have a ton more to go, it's just easier to stay calm and controlled with the knee tuck. I felt like that was a good way to go with that."

In almost Albert Pujols-like fashion, he finally settled on a slight knee tuck at season's end in an effort to get better timing and a bit more torque in his swing.

"We decided I'd stick with that because I tend to like to change things around a lot and sometimes it bites me," he admitted. "I felt the knee tuck worked for me and those last two and half or three weeks were a good representation of the kind of hitter that I should be during the whole season."

That final approach only came after months of experimenting on different things from all of the various sources trying to tweak his game. Some of that advice along the way wasn't even solicited.

"I had a lot of different advice being thrown at me from a whole bunch of different people, whether they were in the game or out of the game," he revealed. "I made the mistake of listening to every single one of them.

"I've pretty much been a people pleaser always so I like to make people happy by listening to their advice but sometimes I have to know what works for me and things that don't. Once I figured that out and stuck with what I wanted to do it was a lot better."

Whether it be physical or mental, learning how to prepare one's self for the rigors of a 142-game schedule for the time isn't easy. Throw in the many adjustments, tweaks, and the entire trial and error process on top of it, it was clear that 2012 was an experimental season for the 2011 first round pick.

"I definitely would agree with that but I also feel that's a necessity to go through," he opined. "I feel like everybody's first season is going to feel the longest.

"It's going to be long just because of the mental beating that you're going to get playing so much, but I think that it was definitely needed to go through all of that."

In fact, despite getting advice from many different sources and implementing them on the fly in almost an ever-changing game that never really allowed him to get into a consistent approach or swing, even in hindsight he is thankful for having to go through that process.

"I had to go through that. Part of learning what is good for you is learning what is not good for you.

"I learned early instead of being in the big leagues and listening to people in the big leagues. I struggled with a certain thing now and that's probably a lot better," he concluded.

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