Greg Jacobs: Discovering His Stroke All Over Again
Tacoma Rainiers outfielder Greg Jacobs has a lot going for him: he's a hard worker; he's humble; he's hitting over .400 in his last 15 games; and his batting coach is Rod Carew. That's right, Rod—3,000 hits, 6 time AL batting champion, Hall of Famer—Carew.
Well, maybe that's a little bit of an exaggeration, Rainiers hitting coach Terry Pollreisz is Jacob's hitting instructor during the season, and that's the way Jacob's likes it.
"I've been real happy to have been back with Pollreisz," Jacobs said, "he really knows my swing, he really pays attention."
Pollreisz's knowledge of Jacobs' swing was founded last year in San Antonio when he was the hitting instructor for the Missions. This year both Pollz, as the team lovingly calls their coach, and Jacobs were reunited at Triple-A Tacoma. But the relationship hasn't all been sunshine and puppy dogs.
After Jacobs was promoted from San Antonio on June 3 it seemed like he would pick up where he left off, as a career .300 hitter, but after two weeks his average fell like the 1929 stock market.
"I' started off decently hot," Jacobs said, "then I tried to do too much, because balls weren't dropping. Then I started pulling my head, then I was trying to pull everything, and my batting average went down to .220 I think at the lowest."
In his first two weeks at Tacoma Jacobs was batting .295, but during the next two weeks Jacobs endured a painful slump, going 4-for-29 at the plate, including an 0-for-14 stretch that saw his average dip to an anemic .213.
Through it all, Jacobs kept his cool. Since the slump Jacobs has seen a meteoric rise in his batting average, and he attributes it all to his hard work with Pollreisz.
"All the success I've been having now," Jacobs said, "about using my eyes and going through the ball, (its Pollreisz), he's helped me."
In Jacobs 15 games after the all-star break the southpaw has been Ruthian. Over those 15 games the 5'10" lefty has hit .417 with a .472 on base percentage, and nearly half of his hits have been for extra bases, including five home runs during an eight game stretch.
Jacobs has lifted his average 60 points during the hot streak, and now has the highest batting average on the team (.308), outside of Jamal Strong (.324).
So what does Pollz have to say about his hot hitter, "Well, he's just seeing the ball real good," said Pollreisz, with a smile from ear to ear. "He's a solid contact guy," Pollreisz continued, "who can hit with a little power too. He has such a small zone, if he can control that zone like he has been lately then he is a real solid hitter."
And it's not just Jacobs' hitting coach who has praise for him. Greg Dobb's, another Tacoma via San Antonio guy, has seen Jacobs hit the past two seasons. "He has a good eye at the plate," Dobbs said, "he's patient (and) he's a pretty disciplined hitter."
"By now he knows what he's looking for in certain counts or what the pitcher is going to throw at the same time, and that really helps him out. When he gets the pitch he wants to hit he puts a real healthy swing on it, and most of the time he hits the ball extremely hard."
What should also be known about Jacobs is that he is a former pitcher. "Why would that help", you might ask, "pitchers stink at hitting". And you'd be right, most pitchers are not known for their bat. However, Jacobs is a thinker at the plate, just like Ted Williams was. To listen to Jacobs talk hitting is to know that when he is at the plate he is thinking as a pitcher would, which gives him the advantage of knowing what counts are good to take and what counts are good to grip it and rip it.
Of course it doesn't hurt that he knows a real Angel of a hitter "I was always at the (Carew) house," Jacobs said, "and (Rod and I) always talked baseball, we just really took a liking to each other."
"He always called me the son that he never had, besides his big 150 lbs rottweiler of his. He kind of took me under his wing. When I was in high school I was always at Anaheim stadium taking batting practice with the guys."
If Jacobs keeps it up, he might soon be taking batting practice at Safeco with the guys.
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