Bichette Ready To Go

Bichette Jr. has a 1.077 OPS so far this season

TAMPA, FL - After a couple of a disappointing seasons to start off his career, Yankees 2011 first round pick Dante Bichette Jr., off to a hot start this season, is ready to do damage for the high-A Tampa Yankees.

"I feel fantastic [overall]," Bichette said. "Obviously, with my approach at the plate, it's a little unorthodox. When it works, nobody will say anything. It is a bit taboo, I guess, but when I do my thing out there, I've got all the confidence in the world."

Since coming into the Yankees organization in 2011, Bichette Jr. had great spring trainings that didn't translate onto the field during the regular season. However, according to him, this year's Spring Training didn't go as smoothly as the past couple have.

"Spring [Training] was different this year," he said. "In the past, I just absolutely raked Spring Training. This one, I had ups and downs during it, but it's never really meant anything during the season, so I didn't really worry about it."

Manager Al Pedrique said that Bichette's overall style of play has come a long way during his early season platoon with fellow third baseman and first round draft choice Eric Jagielo.

"[Dante] came in [to Spring Training] with a plan to work on his defense and obviously on his offense," Pedrique said. "He's been putting in a lot of time working on his swing, his approach, and it's something we are going to have to wait on and see how things work out for him."

"He seemed like a different guy mentally [coming into Spring Training]," Tampa hitting coach P.J. Piliterre added. "He was ready to take ownership of his career. His confidence level was a lot higher, and he was ready to go."

Even though we are only two weeks into this young season, Bichette Jr. has really stepped up in almost every aspect in his game. His approach at the plate seemed to be a major topic coming into the season, and it still is a topic that is on the mind of Bichette Jr. and Piliterre, his hitting coach.

"I'm really getting my pitch [so far this season]," Bichette said. "I'm doing my best to make sure I get my ‘A' swing off every time, and to not get cheated. I think I've only given away like one or two at-bats. Obviously I don't want to give away any, but that's not a lot."

"I think he's done a phenomenal job of maintaining his approach and being calm at the plate," Piliterre said. "His strike zone discipline has been off the charts.

"I think he's walked [14] times already. He's brought a consistency this year that he was searching to get to last year, that he's been able to achieve so far through these first couple of games."

Bichette Jr. also attributed the fact that his father, former MLB All-Star Dante Bichette Sr., has had a hand in working with his approach at the plate, both mentally and physically.

"Every single day, I get up in the morning, go and hit with my dad, and tighten the screws," said Bichette Jr. "[My dad] plays a huge role. Last year, he was in Colorado with the Rockies as their hitting coach, and this year, he's not doing that, so he's able to work with me and my brother."

Even though Bichette Jr. has improved his game a lot during these first fourteen contests, there is still work to be done.

"This year, I want to give away very few at-bats," Bichette revealed. "I want to be a real tough out. I want to rake. Everybody wants to rake. No real numbers [goals], but I want to help a team win again."

Pedrique talked about how the young third baseman could improve defensively.

"Carlo Mendoza, the infield coordinator, and myself, were working with him on his forehand throws," said Pedrique. "He needs to improve on his angle and keeping his head down, so those are some of the areas we are going to work with him on over the course of the year. But overall, he spent a lot of time on his defense, and we thought that he is getting better."

Piliterre also commented on what Bichette Jr. can do to get better at the plate.

"He just needs to work on maintaining the same approach," Piliterre said, "trying to drive the ball to the center of the field [as well]. If he's a little bit early, he can drive the ball to the left. If he's a little bit late he can drive the ball to the right. When he's doing that, he's a dangerous hitter."

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