How Burrell thinks Bart’s wrestling could make him ‘stronger’ originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
Joey Bart’s plate fight led to his demotion to Triple-A in early June, and one former Giants slugger-turned-coach opined on how a catcher could make a difference.
San Francisco fans know Pat Burrell as a powerhouse outfielder who helped take the city’s first World Series championship to Third and King. These days, he’s helping the organization’s minor league players find their place as a hitting coach for the San Jose Giants.
In their 12 seasons in MLB, the Pat Bet has learned first hand that much of a batter’s boxing success depends on a good mental attitude. While performing on the KNBR show “Murph & Mac” on Monday he shared his advice for former No. 2 overall Bart, who was to be Buster Posey’s heir.
“A couple of years ago we had a practice session with all the minor league players,” Burrell said. “The mental skills team came in and they asked all the players how important mental ability is in baseball and how much physical ability. Over 80 percent of the guys lined up for 75 percent of baseball, mental, not physical.
“So when I see a guy wrestle like [Bart has]First of all, I sympathize with him. God, I know how it is.”
Burrell detailed his 2003 season with the Philadelphia Phillies, when he hit the worst batting average of his career at .209 after a successful 2002 campaign in which he cut .282/.376/.544. Of course, after that bad year, Burrell bounced back and eventually won rings with the Phillies in 2008 and with the Giants in 2010.
“So sometimes you just have bad years,” he said. “I think, again, given the hardships of what happened, I think it will only help this guy. I think he will be stronger because of this. But I think in the end he will have to come to something within himself, whether he is upset, whether he is angry, whether he forms a chip on his shoulder.
“I think those are good things because I think he should figure out what makes him leave.”
Bart’s ongoing struggle came to a head on June 8 when the Giants traded for catcher Austin Wynnseffectively finding a replacement for Bart behind the plate so he could return to Sacramento to work on his hitting.
In his last 25 games with the Giants, Bart landed 15 hits and landed just two. His batting average dropped to .156 with strikeouts in 49 of 108 plate appearances.
Bart is currently 4-for-11 with the River Cats with two walks and two strikeouts in three games. Success at any level starts with a player’s mindset, Burrell said, and restoring his confidence in Sacramento can do wonders for a team. Bart’s chances of returning to the Major Leagues.
“Of course, there may be some technical issues, but we have to make Joey love baseball,” Burrell said. “He needs to feel comfortable there. I think it’s number one. And it may take a while, but we definitely have the resources and people around to try and help them.”
Most of the young players lost a year of development after the 2020 MiLB season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, making that extra time that Burrell talked about all the more important.
As Bart hopes to live up to expectations – both his own and those of the Giants’ organization – all Burrell and the other coaches can do is remind him why he was given the opportunity in the first place.
“All I do, if I get a chance to talk to him, is just keep reminding him how good he is,” Burrell said. “It’s easy to forget. It’s a humiliating game, but that’s how you get off the mat. And that’s what I hope to see here.”