Video helps Antonelli fix swing
Padres second baseman reviews tape to help end slumps
PEORIA, Ariz. -- There was certainly no shortage of voices and opinions directed at Padres second baseman Matt Antonelli when he struggled offensively during his first season with Triple-A Portland.
But one of the voices that resonated most last season came from Portland catcher Shawn Wooten, who urged Antonelli to watch videotape to help fix the swing that had betrayed him to the tune of a .215 batting average.
"I had never watched a lot of video before, mostly because I never went through a slump that was so long in college or in [Class A] or Double-A," Antonelli said. "I learned a lot from him. This last offseason, I hit more than I ever have."
And, of course, Antonelli watched more video of himself hitting than he had before. This wasn't just a case of plopping himself down on a couch, turning on the DVD player and nibbling on popcorn, either.
Antonelli used a computer program with a split-screen function so he could compare the swings he had back at Wake Forest and when he hit .314 at Class A Lake Elsinore and .294 at Double-A San Antonio in 2007.
"I would go hit every day, film it and compare it to old film from Double-A and [Class A] and would mimic what I was doing then, when I was really swinging the bat well. And I would do it until things matched up. That helped a lot."
Antonelli, the Padres' first-round pick (17th overall) in 2006, started slow in his first year with Portland, hitting .195 in April and .170 in May. It wasn't until August, the final month of the Pacific Coast League season, when he started feeling comfortable to an extent and hit .290.
Antonelli was promoted to San Diego in September after the rosters expanded. He hit .193 in 57 at-bats. He'll be back in Portland to start the regular season.
"It was really frustrating," Antonelli said. "But it was a good learning experience. You always hear guys say you would rather struggle in the Minor Leagues than the Major Leagues. The big thing is getting back to doing things the right way.
"I was trying to get out of my slump, but it was not working. If something goes wrong or my swing doesn't feel good, then I stop right there, instead of saying [my swing] will come back in time. I learned last year, if you give it some time, it doesn't come back."
Which is why Antonelli worked so diligently on his swing at home in Massachusetts, and why he continues to videotape himself hitting. Heading into Saturday's game against the Cleveland Indians in Peoria, Antonelli was hitting .286 in 21 spring at-bats.
"For me, he looks much better and more comfortable," Padres manager Bud Black said. "This year, he realizes he just has to let the talent show up and play on the field and not force things. He's looked better everywhere. At the plate, he looks ready to hit."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.