Advertisement

Matt Wallner's swing was off. Here's how he's fixing it.

FORT MYERS, FLA. – At the plate, something was off for second-year outfielder Matt Wallner. So, he approached assistant hitting coach Derek Shomon.

Shomon went to the videotape, and the problem quickly became clear.

"He was driving straight over the dish, basically winding himself up as if the third baseman was the pitcher," Shomon said. "If the third baseman was pitching to Matt with those moves, he'd be great. But it's the pitcher who's pitching."

Yeah, pretty much all the time.

Shomon had Wallner excused from Tuesday's road trip against the Cardinals and held a four-hour, fix-it session. Together, they looked at motion-capture video that breaks down how each limb is moving during the swing. The next stop was the batting cage.

"Sometimes you beat yourself up as a coach because you're like, 'Why didn't I see that before?' And it may be for no other reason than you were prioritizing something else," Shomon said. "What's cool is, with our system, you identify it, you solve it, you write it down and then you're ready to address it again if it recurs."

Once Shomon showed him the tape, Wallner understood the problem. "I was just hitting too many balls in the bottom of the zone because I could get away with it. But if [the pitch] is middle-up, my swing doesn't play," he said. "He showed me how I was getting too far over the plate."

Wallner previously used an exercise that reminded him not to do that, but "it got away from him, not for any other reason than it felt like he didn't necessarily need it," Shomon said. "The focus went elsewhere, and he was getting away from some of the things he was doing."

It sounds like a tiny adjustment, and it basically is. But "minor mistakes can drag you down," Shomon said, and both he and Wallner expect the outfielder — just 1-for-15 so far this spring — to start producing more. After all, it's happened before.

"I had him in Double-A [at Wichita] in 2022, and he was a great pupil," Shomon said of Wallner, who started those first two weeks 3-for-41 [.073]. "He got off to a really, really slow start and finally got to the point where he was like, 'OK, what do you got?' The very next day he showed up, willing to do the things that were asked of him."

Over the next 2½ months before being promoted to Class AAA St. Paul, Wallner batted .339 with 20 homers and a 1.156 OPS.

"And that's the kind of guy Matt is," Shomon said. "He had such a good experience with that early on, it doesn't freak him out to try to adjust and calibrate."