Thunder hitting coach Steve Braun raves about the 26 year old's
work ethic saying, "There's nobody better in how he goes about his
business. He's very coachable." Dan Radison, another Thunder coach
describes Grove as the type of player who, "works all the time. He's a very
What does Grove say about his approach to the game?
"I take a lot of pride in my early work. I try to go to early hitting every day and get good reads in the outfield during BP." According to Grove though, hard work alone does not ensure a player a promotion or success. "Hard work can take you only so far. Hopefully, your skills get you there and hard work puts you over the top."
Grove started out slowly
this year with Trenton after splitting time last year between Tampa and the
Thunder. After hitting .287 in 76 games last year, he is hitting .276 in 96
games and has made substantial progress since spring training both offensively
and defensively. According to Braun, the swing that Grove brought to spring
training was different than last year and was not going to make it at the double
A level. Grove has really started to get hot in the last six weeks, hitting at
close to a .330 clip over that time. . In addition to his offensive
prowess, Grove has learned how to hold down playing the outfield on a every day
basis. Of Grove's 76 games with the Thunder last year, 46 of them was as a
designated hitter. This year, Grove has only been penciled in as the designated
hitter four times, compared to 88 games in the outfield. Grove prefers to play
the outfield saying, "You're more in the game. You're a part of it
more." Grove said that he believed his playing time in the outfield in
Spring Training would be indicative of where most of his playing time this
season would be. He also added, "I think I paid my dues a little bit last
year." Grove feels that he's proven to himself and the coaches that he can
play the outfield.
Another one of Grove's
well-known habits to Thunder fans and followers this year has been his penchant
to throw bats into the stands. He has thrown the bat at least a dozen times this
year and it is not a new occurrence for Grove. According to some followers who
had seen Grove during his time with the Thunder last season say that Grove threw
the bat several times last year as well. Grove says that his bats are sticky
with pine tar when he comes to the plate and that "if I knew what caused
it, I would fix it but I don't." While some around the team joke that
Grove is on a one man crusade to make bate throwing an Olympic sport just like
the javelin throw or the shot-put toss, Grove sees a pattern to the
madness. He says that it "happens mainly on off speed pitches."
Grove is originally from
and still resides in Walla Walla, Washington and said that his idol growing up
was Ken Griffey Jr. Grove says the choice of Griffey was obvious. "Being
from Washington, he [Griffey] played for the Mariners and he was a good
left-handed hitter." It must have paid off for Grove who has nine home runs
on the year including one that tried to trigger a Thunder comeback in Game One
of a double header against the Norwich Navigators.
Grove, who believes that
baseball shares a lot of parallels with life, should return to Trenton next year
as an outfielder as well as a left-handed bat off the bench for the Yankees'
double-A affiliate. Once Grove's playing career is over, though, he said that he
thinks he would like to get involved in coaching although maybe not
professionally. He said he would probably like to coach younger ages, most
likely high school or college age players. Grove indicated that these players
have a different mindset than players in professional ball.
While Grove may not be the
most talented player in the minors, he has heart and work ethic. These two
virtues will help Grove in becoming a leader in the clubhouse as well as on and
off the field.