MIAMI -- As I alluded to in my postgame article on CSNwashington.com, Rick Eckstein takes his team's poor offensive performances just as hard (if not more) than his players. That's certainly understandable, because this is Eckstein's livelihood. He spends every waking moment working with hitters, studying video, thinking about swings and opposing pitchers. Hitting consumes his life.
Eckstein had some interesting things to say following today's 1-0 loss to the Marlins -- the Nats' second straight shutout. I was able to use only a couple of the quotes in my earlier article, but I wanted to share the full transcript of Eckstein's interview with a couple of us inside the Nationals' clubhouse...
Q: What do you take out of this past few days?
A: The game is based on execution when you've got runners in scoring position. That's the bottom line. We just didn't execute the last few days. We had our opportunities, and we couldn't capitalize on those opportunities. To do a better job in the future, we have to capitalize on the situations execute. The bottom line is, find a way to get it done.
Q: Is there anything different in the approach in clutch spots?
A: Well, we're getting pitches to hit and we're just missing them. When you don't execute a situation, you can say whatever you want. The bottom line is, do you get the job done or not? The last two days, we were getting the job done with nobody on. But then when guys were on base, we weren't getting it done. Plain and simple. Typically in those situations, they tend to pitch us in a different way. We've got to make adjustments. Our adjustments weren't up to par.
Q: As hitting coach, how much do you take it personally?
A: Every pitch. Every pitch. Yeah.
Q: If you're having success when guys aren't on base, how do you go about fixing the problem?
A: Well, you've got to evaluate, is there a problem? Sometimes, it's baseball. That's the first thing you have to do. You've got to realize: Are they conducting their at-bat in a good way? Are they doing what the plan is, and trying to execute that plan? Sometimes, you know, there was a pitch out there that one of our players put in play that, if the wind isn't blowing in, it's a home run. But it wasn't today. It's a flyball out. So is there a problem there? No, I don't think so. So, hey, keep nutting it up. So you have to evaluate. You have to look at the way they're conducting the at-bat, how they approach [it]. Ultimately, the result doesn't always dictate if it was a quality at-bat or not.
Q: Do you have to remind guys of that when it's going bad?
A: Don't get me wrong. There are times where it's: "No. No. We need to have a better plan. We need to have a better approach." But there are also other times like: "You did what you were supposed to do. You conducted a professional at-bat in that situation. Keep doing that." Each at-bat is individualized to each individual person, to each individual situation, on each individual pitch. But I was bad yesterday, and I was bad today. I'll be better tomorrow."