Former major league player, coach and front-office person Jose Cardenal shares some tips for basic outfield defense.
Cardenal emphasized the mental part of the game when providing tips on outfield defense at the Joe Maddon and Friends Coaching the Coaches Clinic earlier this month.
“Is he a pull hitter?” Cardenal said, pointing out the things outfielders need to be thinking about while waiting for their few plays a game. “Is he a little guy, rinky-dink hitter or a power hitter?
“You have to know game situations.”
Cardenal built his knowledge of the game over a lengthy career as a player, coach and front-office person in Major League Baseball. The Cuban-born outfielder played 2,017 games for nine teams over 18 seasons from 1963 to 1980 while hitting .275 with 329 stolen bases.
Concentration through long breaks of inactivity is part of the assignment, he said.
“If your mind’s not right, you can’t do it,” said Cardenal, who was a coach for four MLB teams. “You have to know how to throw to the right base. You have to know how to keep the deciding run from advancing. There’s a lot of things you have to think about.”
Cardenal stressed preparedness. Outfielders must be prepared to hit the right cutoff man if the ball is played to them. They also must know the proper position to be in for each new batter.
“If it’s a pull hitter and the pitcher’s throwing hard, maybe you have to play back just a bit more,” Cardenal said. “You have to know who’s playing next to you. You have to think, ‘How much can he cover? How much can I cover?’”