Padres News: Who Is FungoMan?

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His name is FungoMan, and he is humanity’s last hope.

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FungoMan might sound like an off-brand superhero, but it’s actually an automated machine that directs fly balls to outfielders. It resembles a pitching machine on wheels set up at home plate on a practice field.  MLB.com’s Corey Brock explains that the machine is run by the San Diego Padres bench coach, Dave Roberts, with a hand-held device that can be programmed to repetitively shoot balls to specific distances, replicating a ball off the fungo bat.

"“It takes out the human error when you’re doing specific outfield drills,” said San Diego bench coach Dave Roberts, who works with the team’s outfielders. “You can maximize the players’ time. Trying to hit the ball 330 feet consistently is tough for anyone.“With the ‘FungoMan,’ the ball flight is consistent — we’re giving them balls right at them, shoestring catches, balls in the gap, to the line, even pop-ups to the infielders. Having this just makes sense.”"

While working out at San Diego State University recently, Matt Kemp saw that the baseball team was utilizing the machine, one he was familiar with when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"“I don’t think people really understand how hard it is to hit consistent fly balls with a real fungo,” Kemp said. “I have [had] some good coaches, like Davey Lopes, who were good at it. But I’m sure if Davey saw the ‘FungoMan,’ he would want to use it instead of hitting fungos all day, so when I found out the Padres had one, I was like, ‘I want to use that thing.'”"

The machine has been a hit with the players in Peoria this Spring Training.

"“It’s great to be able to just get efficient work in,” said Will Venable. “Where it would take someone with a regular fungo (bat) an hour to hit you six balls, this is as perfectly as they can in three minutes.”"

If it is such a wonderful machine, it makes me wonder why haven’t the Padres been using it every Spring Training?

We will see if FungoMan makes a difference with our outfielders this season, specifically our new center fielder Wil Myers, who has some questioning his defensive skills in the outfield.

I’ve personally never used one when I was playing Little League but it certainly sounds like a worthwhile device.

You can check out FungoMan in action at the MLB.com link here.

Has anyone out there ever used a FungoMan machine in their baseball playing days? Share with us how you liked it.

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