Mike Pagliarulo doesn’t pretend to have the cure.
But if the Marlins don’t overcome their scoring woes, it won’t be for lack of preparation.
“It’s all about preparation,” said Pagliarulo, the Marlins’ new hitting coach. “That’s how it’s supposed to be done. That’s how the championship teams do it. So that’s how we’re going to do it.”
The Marlins of 2016 were befuddling. They ranked fourth in the majors with a .263 team batting average. But they were 27th in runs scored with only 655.
It was as if the carpet didn’t match the drapes.
Part of the explanation is that they lacked pop. Only the Braves hit fewer homers. But manager Don Mattingly was convinced the team’s hitters simply were not sufficiently prepared under previous hitting coach Barry Bonds.
Mattingly expressed his frustration following a 3-2 loss to the Braves in September, a game in which the Marlins jumped out to a 2-0 lead before their bats went silent.
“Those [types of games] are showing you we’re not making adjustments,” Mattingly said. “That’s about our individual preparation and us [coaches] doing a better job. Other teams are doing it, I know. They’re doing their prep work. They’re doing their homework. It’s going in and taking advantage of technology.”
Mattingly didn’t call Bonds out by name. But it was clear he thought the slugging great, while praised by Marlins hitters for the advice he gave, fell short in game planning.
Bonds wasn’t hired back. In his place, the Marlins hired Pagliarulo, a University of Miami star in the 1980s and Mattingly’s former teammate with the Yankees. While Pagliarulo’s only previous stint as a hitting coach was in 2014 with Pittsburgh’s Triple A club, he has worked extensively in advance scouting.
Now, Pagliarulo intends to transfer that knowledge to the Marlins’ hitters so that they will “be ready for the first pitch and make adjustments as the game goes.”
Pagliarulo said he will hold individual daily briefings with each and every hitter, going over not only that day’s opposing pitcher but any relievers they might face.
“They’re individual and they’re private,” Pagliarulo said. “And they’ll be done every day. It’ll be customized. Every player will have his own custom report every day. And then there will be a team plan of attack. I call them huddles and not meetings because meetings are kind of boring.”
Say the Marlins are facing the New York Mets and starter Matt Harvey.
“I’ll go over Harvey,” Pagliarulo said. “I’ll go over his strengths and weaknesses. I’ll see how we match up against that guy. Then we’ll simulate that plan each day, either in the cage or on the field in batting practice. Before that game happens, we’re going to simulate that plan.”
After all, Pagliarulo said, the pitcher is doing his own homework.
“That guy on the mound, he’s been studying you for five days and he’s committed to his plan,” Pagliarulo said. “So you’ve got to be more prepared than him.”
For Pagliarulo, preparation is paramount to success.
“In order to succeed you need full commitment and committing to your plan,” he said. “It separates major leaguers from everybody else. You don’t play to just play. You play to win, and you need to be ready.”
Despite the team’s scoring deficiencies, the front office made not a single change to the lineup during the offseason. They added two starters. They beefed up the bullpen. But they left the lineup exactly as it was.
It will be Pagliarulo’s job to ensure that same lineup doesn’t produce exactly as it did before.
“The more disciplined we are about preparation, the more disciplined we are in the simulation of that game plan every day, we’ll be better,” he said.
▪ Friday: Marlins LHP Adam Conley vs. Detroit Tigers RHP Jordan Zimmermann, 7:05 p.m., Jupiter.
▪ Saturday: Marlins (TBA) vs. Tigers LHP Daniel Norris, 12:05 p.m., Jupiter.