Colin Walsh Learns Benefits Of Gripping And Ripping





ST. LOUIS—Colin Walsh has offered his coaches and others an easy explanation for a power surge this year that has put him in a new position, literally and figuratively, with the organization: "I just swing harder."

"He says that tongue-in-cheek," low Class A Quad Cities hitting coach Joe Kruzel said. "But there's some truth to it."

Walsh, 22, has tripled his career total for homers as a pro with 16 this season, while batting .314/.423/.572. He has boosted his power without sacrificing his eye, drawing more walks (49) than strikeouts (43) for the third consecutive season.

The switch-hitter traces his pop back to the final days of spring training, when he tried to jar himself from a slump by going up for an at-bat and swinging as hard as possible. He connected. So he did it again. He went 2-for-3 with a double. So he did it from the other side of the plate. And so on. Instead of trying to aim the ball for a hit, Walsh, a 13th-round pick out of Stanford in 2010, became more confident driving the ball for extra bases.

"Maybe there's something to this," Walsh said. "If you take my last-year swing, I was really focused on barreling the ball up. Now when I swing there is a noticeable difference. I would swing hard (last year), but I wouldn't swing as hard as I could."

But that is an oversimplified view of the change. Walsh worked on his swing in the offseason, trying to balance the attack from both sides of the plate. With few at-bats from the right side, he struggled and was more likely to take a walk than to drive a pitch. So he took two swings on the right for every one from the left and has "closed the gap," Kruzel said. Walsh has been a .345/.429/.679 hitter from the right, and a .299/.421/.524 from the left side this year.

Now the Cardinals want to find the nomadic fielder a firm position. Walsh is playing more second base—the position he played at Stanford.

REDBIRD CHIRPS

• The Cardinals promoted righthander Trevor Rosenthal from the Double-A rotation to the major league bullpen. Rosenthal, 22, was 8-6, 2.78 in 17 starts in the Texas League.

• Slugging first baseman Matt Adams, who was batting .353/.379/.659 at Triple-A Memphis, has been bothered by bone debris in his right elbow. He'll require offseason surgery to alleviate the problem.