JUPITER, Fla. – It didn’t take long for new hitting coach John Mabry to respond when asked for a candidate to break out and have a big year at the plate.
“Daniel Descalso,” Mabry said.
Descalso enters the spring in a competition for playing time at second base with Matt Carpenter, Pete Kozma, Ryan Jackson and Ronny Cedeno. But both manager Mike Matheny and general manager John Mozeliak have conceded that Descalso enters the competition with a slight advantage.
The left-handed hitting Descalso had a tough year at the plate in 2012, hitting just .227 with 83 strikeouts in 374 at-bats. But he had a much better 2011 when he hit .264 and had 20 doubles and a .334 on-base percentage .
And Mabry expects the 26-year-old to look more like the hitter we saw two years ago in 2013.
“It’s that learning curve and some guys get to the league and they get a comfort level and they understand their bodies a little more and the game a little bit more and how pitchers are attacking them a little more and each year you see guys progress,” Mabry said. “And Danny has this mentality of he’s a gamer, he’s a natural leader. He’s somebody that is in the right spot at the right time on the baseball field and puts himself in good positions and those kinds of guys, once they get the tools to make themselves better, they usually do.”
Mabry enters his first season as the Cardinals hitting coach. He served as the assistant hitting coach a season ago under Mark McGwire, who left to take the same position with the Los Angeles Dodgers.