PP Feature: Jason Grove

TRENTON - Jason Grove is hitting .276 and has come up clutch in several key situations for the Thunder this year. Grove is a left-handed hitter who can hit for both power and average and has made strides all year.

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 committed man."

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.   

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