"Coming in, they sat me down and told me what they wanted me to accomplish this year as far as my approach goes at the plate," said Kazmar of his work with Lefebvre. "Understanding which pitch I can drive the other way and which pitches to lay off early in the count."
"We wanted to get me a good base and work from the ground up to be in an athletic position to let it loose and strike the ball," Venable said of his time with Lefebvre. "I think we found it with a lot of hard work, but we figured it out."
Looking ahead to the beginning of 2009, Lefebvre sees that type of localized coaching expanded to include more prospects.
"We want to invite everyone to our facility here and let them know we will be happy to help them," he said.
While it is a voluntary invite, the belief is by starting early the Padres can breed good habits throughout the season – pulling from the success that Kazmar and Venable saw.
As for the job opening in San Diego, Lefebvre is listening.
"If the offer was right, of course I would be interested," Lefebvre said.
Rumor is he is among the frontrunners for the position.
He is throwing from 40-feet and that number will increase in the coming weeks. Viloria is on schedule to return to the mound in Spring Training and much happier these days after getting his shoulder taken care of.
"I need to be healthy first and then will work on commanding the fastball," Viloria said.
The left-hander missed all of 2008 after dominating the Arizona Rookie League the season before, among the top three in strikeouts per nine innings pitched.
He will be at 100 percent for Spring Training.
It is a stat they track religiously, and there is a reason to their madness.
In five of their seven affiliates, the Padres average when first-pitch swinging was less than .200.
The worst offender in the entire minor league system was Edgar Gonzalez (minor league stats only). Ironically, he was one of the few with enough bat control to do well, hitting .333 in such situations when he swung at the initial offering.
Most players barely touched the .150 average mark when hacking away at the first pitch.
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