Starling Marte on a roll

The Pirates are receiving a considerable offensive contribution over the past two months from Starling Marte. He has been on an absolute tear. He is hitting .350 in his last ten games. In September, he is hitting .378. He isn’t just doing it lately either, he raked in August too, when he hit .344 with a .977 OPS.'s George Von Benko caught up with Marte recently.

GVB – After you returned from the disabled list on August 5 you have been on a tear. Talk about some of the adjustments you made at the plate?

SM – I've continued to do my job and be ready for the game with the hitting coach Jeff Branson. Hitting in the cage, working in the field. I appreciate my hitting coach because he changed my step a little bit at home plate. Being ready before the pitcher throws the ball, having my foot down. We worked on that and that's the biggest thing I've been doing every day. Before that in the first half of the season I was struggling a little bit. After the changes I've been good.

GVB – Getting the foot down, is that a timing mechanism?

SM – It is timing, because you see the ball better, you're ready before the pitcher throws the ball. Everything is better because when you get your foot down you can see every move that the ball does.

GVB – Early in the year their was a lot of swinging and missing. You weren't happy with some of the things that were happening at the plate. Contact has been good and you have been more disciplined and laying off some pitches.

SM – Sometimes you miss a ball, you miss a swing and you ask why I missed the pitch? Why didn't I hit the ball like I do every day? You go to the computer and you see what you are doing and why you missed the pitch. That tells you what you want to do, that shows you why you were missing the ball. The mechanics are hard to do every day and control your swing, but you work hard and you work every day on the same swing.

GVB – I've talked to Andrew McCutchen about hitting, he calls it the game within the game. They are going to adjust and it's how quickly you adjust to what they are doing.

SM – I love McCutchen because he's a very good guy and he helps everybody. He's what you want to do and tries to make you better. I watch what he does and I think that's a big thing for everybody and for every young guy to try and be like him. He's a guy we can learn from, you can see his approach and every time the concentration is the same.

GVB – You mentioned young players, McCutchen said you were battling some of the adjustments early in the season, Gregory Polanco has had to go through some adjustments and is still working through it. It's all about punching back isn't it?

SM – That's why it's hard. McCutchen saw something different and he tried to help. The guy can help everybody. I was struggling a couple months ago, he talked to me and he took me to the computer and he put two different swings on the screen, and he told me when you do this you'll kill everybody, when you you do this you get in trouble. It was noticeable, I talk to him and ask why I missed the pitch, what do I have to do. He told me what to do and I've been good ever since.

GVB – Are you pleased with other parts of your game, base stealing and outfield defense?

SM – You can help win a ballgame in a lot of different ways. I watched McCutchen in the outfield, I move the same way he moves, I watch his position and what he does. I know we don't have to be close because we have the speed.

GVB – Do you like the way the team is playing approaching the playoffs?

SM – We're very close to making a run like we did last year. We're playing hard. Anything can happen, all we can do is play hard every day and play to win.

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