Sports Psychologist's Advice Pushed Veteran to New Heights With Angels

One phrase seemed to click with the longtime major league outfielder.
John Froschauer-USA TODAY Sports
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Los Angeles Angels outfielder Kevin Pillar has enjoyed a resurgence since joining the Angels at the end of April. Pillar was struggling at the beginning of the season while playing for the Chicago White Sox, and has since ramped up his production with the Angels, where he signed in the wake of an injury to star Mike Trout.

After beginning the year slashing .160/.290/.360 with one home run and four RBIs for the White Sox, Pillar was designated for assignment. He rejected the chance and chose to head to free agency, where he found a home with the Angels.

Since joining the Angels, Pillar is slashing .389/.429/.667 with five home runs and 21 RBIs in only four more games. These are easily on pace for career-best averages for Pillar, who has only hit over .300 once in his career, his lone season with the Colorado Rockies during the pandemic-shortened season. Pillar has never had a .400 or higher on-base percentage or a slugging rate of .500 or above.

Pillar credits working with a sports psychologist for helping him get back on track. One piece of advice seemed to stick with Pillar.

“He told me something very profound,” Pillar said of the psychologist, via The Athletic's Sam Blum. “It’s not really that profound. But the way he said it. He talked about all the things. About my offseason — I’d spent a lot of time, effort, money, time away from my family, to go all in on this year. Playing baseball. That was the goal, and the goal didn’t change. I put all my eggs in one basket.

“He said, ‘Finish the race.’ It was a very simple message. I got off the phone with him. I went home. I told my wife and my kids. I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to finish this race.’ ”

The 35-year-old is "finishing the race" strong with the Angels so far. While he's only a little over a month into his tenure with the Angels, he's on track for a career year at an unlikely time. Even once Trout returns, it's hard to see the Angels displacing this version of Pillar anytime soon.

Eva Geitheim


Eva graduated from UCLA in 2023 with a bachelor's degree in Communication. She has been covering college and professional sports since 2022.