Marlins' Bour looking to hit lefties after slow spring
JUPITER, Fla. (AP) A rough spring for Marlins first baseman Justin Bour hasn't diminished manager Don Mattingly's belief that the second-most powerful bat in the Miami lineup will provide the necessary voltage.
Bour was hitting only .177 as the end of exhibition play approached, striking out 15 times in 62 at-bats.
''We're comfortable with Justin,'' Mattingly said Friday. ''He's shown us that he can hit in the big leagues. He's definitely not a guy that came into camp that was actually, in our minds, fighting for a job.''
This spring Bour has been fighting to hit left-handed pitching. A career .265 hitter with 39 homers and 135 RBIs over three major league seasons, only 110 of Bour's 850 major league plate appearances have come against lefties.
Without an obvious right-handed hitting platoon mate at first base, one of Bour's goals this spring was to improve his approach against southpaws.
With only two hits and seven strikeouts in 21 at-bats against lefties this spring, that work hasn't exactly paid off yet. Bour did draw a walk against Detroit lefty Justin Wilson on Friday night.
''I feel like I'm just starting to scratch the surface,'' Bour said. ''I feel like the more I learn these pitchers, the more I play that game within the game, the better I'm getting.''
The way Justin Bour sees it, the perception that he can't hit left-handed pitching is somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Once a player earns that label, it's hard to find the opportunities to shed it.
''Last year I think the only lefties I faced were the guys who were coming out of the pen and their one sole job was to get me out,'' Bour said. ''Those lefty relievers, I've never seen them before.''
Mattingly understands that it can be a frustrating position.
''He's right, honestly, because if you don't play against lefties then you don't get that experience,'' Mattingly said. ''It's like anything else, it takes experience to know how you want to face a guy or approach a guy. You don't see that many in the minor leagues. You don't see that many here.''
Mattingly has good reason for wanting to keep Bour in the lineup, teaming him with slugger Giancarlo Stanton.
''He's a lot like Giancarlo, when those guys catch it they're going,'' Mattingly said.
Stanton connected Friday for his third spring homer, hitting a drive over the batter's eye in center field.
Stanton sees Bour's power, too - at least when Bour is pulling the ball to right field.
That's the rub, though. Even Bour doesn't have as much opposite-field power as Stanton, he can leave the park in any direction.
''I've always told him he needs to start getting power to left field,'' Stanton said. ''I know he has it. If he works on it, it will help him as an overall hitter, too.''
NOTES: Mattingly announced that Adam Conley will the fifth starter in Miami's rotation. Conley threw four scoreless innings of one-hit ball at the Tigers on Friday.