Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson is not afraid to turn his hitters loose on a 3-0 count. He seems to relish the green light, in fact.
Justin Upton was the latest to exploit the freedom, hitting an opposite-field home run on a 3-0 count leading off the eighth inning in the D-backs' victory over Colorado on Tuesday. Chris Young homered on a 3-0 pitch in Cincinnati on April 19, and Stephen Drew had a run-scoring single while swinging away on 3-0 earlier this season.
"You have nothing to lose. The way we talk about it, it's like batting practice. You are looking for a ball right there, right down the middle," Gibson said. "You have to be disciplined to put a short swing on it. If you put a long swing on it, you just make an out. The key is to get the bat head to the ball with backspin, and he did. Obviously, when a guy goes 'oppo' (opposite field), you struck it properly."
Gibson instituted the green-light policy when he became the D-backs' interim manager last July 1 and has reinforced it this season. The D-backs have swung at 11 3-0 pitches, the most in the major leagues and about twice the major league average.
Gibson and Upton agree that the key is not trying to do too much in that situation.
"Just make sure it is a strike and don't come out of your shoes," Upton said after homering on an outside fastball from Felipe Paulino, whose average fastball has been 95.4 mph this season.
"With a guy throwing that hard, anything in(side) you may not be able to get the bat head to. You definitely try to get something out over the plate, and that's where they went. It's really about getting a good pitch to hit. It's either going to be a strike, something you can handle, or a ball that you walk on and you're a baserunner."
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