A day before position players were due to arrive in Fort Myers, Fla., there was just one new player to hit camp. That was Bill Hall, the super-utilityman who could help in a variety of ways this season, particularly if he can rediscover that stroke that led to 35 homers for the 2006 Brewers.
Hall is excited about the chance to play all over the infield and the outfield, and perhaps even get some reps at short again, which used to be his main position, albeit one he hasn’t played since 2006.
“I grew up as a shortstop,” said Hall. “That just comes naturally to me. I’ve played it my whole life. Take away three years of my career, that’s the only time I didn’t play shortstop full time. Hopefully it will be a really easy transition to get back to game speed.”
He hasn’t lost any love for the position since he stopped playing it. Yes, shortstop is still Hall’s favorite
“I mean, my favorite player growing up was Ozzie Smith. Been loving it playing it since I was old enough to pick up a baseball,” Hall said.
So what happened to Hall’s once-dangerous offense? An ankle injury suffered in July of 2007, while playing center field, led to the development of bad habits.
“The injury hurt me the worst,” said Hall. “In ’07 when I hurt my ankle I came back way too fast, had to change the way I swung. It was my backside ankle and I couldn’t rotate down into the ball anymore like I could before I was injured. ou ingrain something into your head on a siwng, and it kept getting worse and worse. This offseason, I went back to the drawing board, simplified my swing and started using my backside again.”
Among other things, Hall is rediscovering the art of hitting the ball to the opposite field.
“I haven’t hit the ball to right field like I can in almost two and a half a years. Now I’m driving the ball to right field and hitting the ball out to center again. When you can stay on the ball longer and guys are throwing sliders and things like that, it’s going to keep me on the ball longer and not lose the power I had.”
The question regarding Hall is how much playing time he will get. Considering his versatility, Hall could see quite a few at-bats, particularly if he hits.
“I don’t want to put a number on it,” Hall said. “Obviously like I said the utility guy last year Nick Green obviously had a lot of at-bats and played a lot of shortstop last year. I don’t want to put a number on it. He just promised me plenty of at-bats and opportunities to prove I could be the player I want to be. That revolves around hitting. Everybody knows I can play some defense and everyone knows I can hit. I’ve just had some unfortunate incidents in the last couple of years and I feel like I’m pretty close back to where I used to be.”
I’ll be back with more blogging on Monday. Position players technically don’t have to come to the complex until Tuesday, when they undergo physicals and go through conditioning drills.
At some point over the next couple of days, we will see David Ortiz, Mike Lowell, Adrian Beltre, Marco Scutaro and Mike Cameron for the first time this spring. I’m guessing at least one from that group will arrive Monday.