JUPITER, FL. (KMOV.com) -- Stephen Piscotty has been swarmed with media requests from the day he reported to camp. As one of the most thoughtful interviewees in the organization and a player who has made and remade his skills a handful of times in the last few years, Piscotty is a compelling character in a spring devoid of any real drama.
That also means he’s pulled in a dozen directions before he even gets on the practice field. Between television sit-downs, print interviews and photo ops, Piscotty balances his workouts, stretches, drills and the task of honing skills at both first base and right field.
“It’s tough. You kind of have to go with the flow,” he said. “We were talking today in base running and going over some situations and stuff. One way I like to run the bases is to be very instinctual. I like to take that to all facets of the game. If you try to think too much or be too analytical, you’re going to end up hurting yourself.”
Perhaps even more than his skill at the plate or adaptability in the field, Piscotty’s personality is his greatest asset. He adapts to each situation and focuses on the task at hand. In a Cardinals’ camp that stresses “the process” over all else, the 25-year-old Stanford grad is wired perfectly.
“I think he’s smart in the way he goes about his work,” Mike Matheny said. “He’s got a plan of what he’s trying to do each day. Whether it’s when he goes into the cage or when he comes out on the field.”
Every year, Piscotty comes into camp eyeing a set of attributes he’d like to enhance by spring’s end. Previously, he had re-tooled his swing in hopes of tapping into more power. His seven homers and 15 doubles in just 63 games last season prove he found it. This year, he’s content with the swing, choosing instead to focus on his fielding.
“I want to really improve in all parts of the game defensively, whether it’s in right field or first. Within each position, whether it’s footwork or getting a better route in the outfield. That’s the sort of stuff I’m focused on,” he said.
He’s getting help from one outfield position over. Randal Grichuk, Piscotty’s roommate in Jupiter and another media star in camp, has helped the converted outfielder improve his throws.
“He’s a great outfielder. He’s played his whole life. I definitely ask him quite a bit about that stuff,” Piscotty said. “He’s got a very accurate arm. The footwork he does to lead up to that sets the groundwork.”
The two have developed a chemistry in their work together, despite being wildly different personalities. The relationship has not only brought them closer together, but pushed both to develop skills where the other had an advantage.
“I think you kind of click or you don’t. We were around each other so much during outfield drills and hitting we just kind of found a good way to work with each other and feed off each other,” Grichuk said. “To push each other. I think we have something good going and hopefully it can continue into the season.”
While Grichuk helped Piscotty with the pre-throw footwork, Piscotty helped Grichuk with the pre-swing mechanics. The center fielder liked what Piscotty was doing in the box before the pitch, and convinced him to come to Texas during the offseason so the pair could swing together.
“His load (a hitter’s coil to the hitting position), working on his early movements and just pre-pitch movements,” Grichuk said. “That’s what I wanted to work on so I got him to come down and hit a couple times.”
Piscotty has thrived operating in this way. He chooses a skill, seeks out and absorbs all available information, workshops ideas and then hones it with laser-like focus.
That’s allowed him to develop at a healthy pace, and compartmentalize all the other non-essential information like where he will end up out of camp, what media outlets are saying about him and how he’ll adapt to pitchers.
“I’ve always come in with a specific goal as far as my development and that’s kind of what takes most of my focus,” he said. “The other stuff is there and I get asked a lot about it, but it’s not in my focus.”
It’s an approach that players like him need to maintain as they grow into their MLB career. Jim Edmonds, who sharpened each of his tools over time, sees Piscotty’s process as a major positive.
“If he can stay on track and do his own thing - that’s the whole thing,” Edmonds said. “Progress how you progress and don’t try to impress somebody else. If he can do that, he’s going to be a good player.”
Doing his own thing has never been a problem; Piscotty has always been wired a bit unconventionally for a ballplayer. He spends his downtime playing guitar or studying the stock market. He wants to read more books and he doesn’t watch much Netflix. His pairing with Grichuk has been an adventure, because as well as the two get along on the field, commonalities off it are in short supply.
“It’s kind of weird because I feel like we get along really well but we disagree on a lot of different things. To the point where it’s like, ‘Really? You like that over that? Why?’” Grichuk said with a laugh. “A lot of little stuff here and there. It’s nothing major to where it’s like fights, but it’s ‘Wow you like that? I hate that.’ Any conversation you come up with you’ll find something.”
While their personalities and preferences may differ, Piscotty and Grichuk realize they are part of the core of new Cardinals who will define the franchise in years to come. About that responsibility, they have no disagreement.