Swing mechanics under control, Holaday off to fast start

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Bryan Holaday arrives home after his grand slam against the Yankees on Wednesday.

Lakeland, Fla. – When Bryan Holaday came to the plate against Yankees starter Luis Severino with the bases loaded in the second inning Wednesday, there was only one thing on his mind – hunt a fastball and don’t miss it.

He patiently looked at a couple of sliders out of the zone, then swung through a couple of fastballs. On the 2-2 pitch he knew another heater was coming and he didn’t miss it, blasting a grand slam over the wall in left field.

The patience was impressive, but his ability to hunt and barrel up the 95-mph fastball was evidence of Holaday’s maturation at the plate.

“I definitely feel better,” Holaday said. “When I get into the box now I am just thinking about competing, and not about my mechanics.”

Holaday also ripped an opposite-field double and after the game Ian Kinsler said he noticed a difference in his swing.

“He’s made a lot of tremendous adjustments with his swing,” Kinsler said.

Pelfrey perfect, Tigers not so much in loss to Yanks

Holaday began working with Tigers hitting coaches Wally Joyner and David Newhan after he was recalled from Toledo at the end of last season.

“I didn’t change much; tweaking is probably a better word for it,” Holaday said. “Just trying to be more consistent with my bat path, getting in a good starting position so that everything falls in line.

“Wally and Newie have helped me a ton, just doing drills and keep repeating it and repeating it so when I get into a game I’m not thinking, ‘I need to do this or that.’ I can trust that (the swing) is going to be there.”

What Holaday has developed is a more level swing path through the strike zone – it sounds basic, but there are a lot of moving parts to a swing and slight maladjustment can throw it off.

“Just being more consistent,” Holaday said. “Sometimes I’d be a little too steep to the ball. Sometimes I’d move my barrel and get underneath the ball.

“Flat is a good word for it. Just try to find that middle ground where your bat stays in the zone for as long as it can.”

Holaday has politely avoided most media contact this spring, which is understandable. The signing of left-handed hitting catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia has relegated Holaday to the third catcher role, and he’s out of minor league options.

There’s nothing he can say on that topic that can help him, so he is choosing to say nothing. All he wants to do is play hard, produce and let the chips fall where they may.

He’s got the full support of his teammates.

As Kinsler said Wednesday: “Right now I don’t have any sympathy for him because he’s still fighting for a job. … Obviously we know what he brings to this clubhouse, we know what a great dude he is. We know what he brings behind the plate. There is still a position to be won there.

“We will see what happens. We understand why Saltalamacchia is here and why Doc is here and what’s going on there. Just let it play out.”

That’s all Holaday wants to do.

Twitter @cmccosky