Anthony Rizzo is going through a terrible slump, so it was no surprise to see him taking early batting practice on Friday ahead of the Yankees’ 5-4 series-opening victory over the Royals in The Bronx.
And there with him, animatedly giving hints and advice, was new hitting coach Sean Casey.
Rizzo is among those hoping the former major leaguer can help him click.
Asked if a new voice could help him break out of his prolonged slump, Rizzo said: “Everyone is different. Young guys have been taught almost completely different styles of hitting than older veterans, so it’s a matter of mixing them all up.
It’s one of the challenges for Casey, who replaced Dillon Lawson after the All-Star break.
Rizzo said, “Dillon was good in the way he communicated and Shawn is different.” “I’ve known Sean for a while, so our conversations have been really easy.
“I’m excited to have her meet me.”
Manager Aaron Boone said of Casey, “He’s definitely a different sound, a new sound. Sean has done a great job connecting with those people and laying a foundation.”
Boone pointed to Casey’s “different career paths” that included a successful major league career and subsequent work at MLB Network.
Boone said, “From what I’ve seen so far, he’s done a good job connecting with these guys.” “Hopefully, we’re starting to see the fruits of it.”
The offense’s problems extend far beyond Rizzo, as Boone called it a “difficult stretch for some really good hitters”.
But Rizzo’s problems have become serious, and continue even under Casey’s tutelage.
He entered Friday 2-for-21 with no extra-base hits, one walk and six strikeouts in five games since Casey took over.
However, his issues go back much further than that.
Entering Friday, Rizzo was in a 41-game span in which he had five doubles, no homers and 39 strikeouts as well as an OPS of .169 and .475.
And he had not come home since May 20.
On Friday night, Rizzo went 0-4 with one strikeout.
“Every time I walk in [batter’s] box, I’m ready to do damage, whether I’m in a terrible situation like I’ve been or hitting well,” Rizzo said. “It doesn’t matter.”
He has made adjustments to his routine, which is one of the reasons why he was batting early on Friday.
Rizzo said, “Sometimes you have to do less to get more, but this is not one of those times.” “I’ll have to find out. You have to have the belief that you will because if you go up a lot and down a lot, it makes for a long season.