(BaseballStL) — Playing time in center field is an interesting jumble these days in St. Louis, and the odd man out seemed to be Peter Bourjos as of last weekend.
With Randal Grichuk up, Oscar Taveras up and Jon Jay swinging a hot bat, the door to regular playing time seemed all but closed for the 27-year-old.
Tuesday night, a window cracked.
Swapped in on defense in the sixth, Bourjos proved he was more than just a mitt when he led off the home half with a monster home run.
“I ran into it, basically. That wasn’t the idea going up there, I was just trying to get on base,” he said after the game.
The ball traveled 422 feet, and had fans on their feet from the moment of contact. It was just his second at bat in three days. With it, the speedy outfielder reclaimed the lead for the Cardinals.
Bourjos has repeatedly talked about keeping his rhythm despite a platoon situation in the outfield. He no doubt has the strongest defensive play, but his unpredictable bat has made game appearances sporadic. That, in turn, is something that can perpetuate struggles at the plate.
To counteract the effects of irregular at bats he has taken a two-fold approach.
“I’ve been trying to just be as calm as I can be in the batter’s box,” he said. Expanding later, “You can’t really focus on the at bats you’re not getting you really have to focus on the at bats you do get and you try to make the most of them.”
For his hitting mechanics, Bourjos has turned to the tools at his disposal in the Cardinal facilities, working on simulating game action.
“I’ve been working in the cage and hitting off the machine. The machine down there can throw a fastball and a slider and it can alternate between pitches,” he said. “You can put it randomly so it’s almost like an at bat. I’ve been trying to do that as much as a can to simulate at bats. Trying to get that game mentality of getting in there and relaxing.”
The strategy paid off Tuesday, even if the Cardinals ultimately took the loss. The homer pushed Bourjos to 5-for-10 against starter James Shields.