Padres Hoping to Get Better By Failure

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Do not let the title of this article make you think this article is another one about how horrible the Padres are going to be this year, how they are lost somewhere in the middle between contending and hanging on and will most likely be really bad this season. In fact, while there is a place to discuss those issues, the Padres are out to prove that they can and will make progress with their baseball club this season. Austin Hedges is out to make a point in particular.

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Austin Hedges spent his first season in San Diego last year and is ready to improve upon the lessons he learned heading into 2016. To get there, he has been incorporating some lessons he picked up while watching the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors practicing. Him and Padres strength and conditioning coach Brett McCabe have been using Nike Strobe glasses to work on improving reflexes.

The glasses oscillate between clear and opaque, flashing off and on. They throw a tennis ball off the wall and simply work on catching it…sounds easy, but not so fast:

“Since you don’t know where it’s coming from you’ve got to kind of react to it,” Hedges said. “Honestly, it’s one of the few drills I’ve ever done that when you put the glasses on it actually slows the game down. Doing it without [the glasses on] is tough enough, doing it with is really hard. But when you take the glasses off, it’s like slow motion. [The drill] becomes really easy.”

To Hedges, the beauty of the drills is that you struggle more than you succeed. At least at first. For a player who made it to the Major Leagues at such a young level – clearly he has physical abilities most of us would envy. What will help him rise above other players and even two other catchers in Padres camp will be the mental aspect. Hedges thinks that this might be part of that trick.

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“I kind of started liking more failure drills. You can do easy drills, but it’s not going to get you a whole lot better. This is really testing yourself on something you are not very good at it and eventually getting good at it.”

How this will help Hedges and the other catchers deal with handling a Tyson Ross slider or James Shields fastball, but it does seem like it can’t hurt much either. The Padres do have questions. They have holes, and play in the toughest divisions. Yet, they aren’t sitting on their laurels for 2016 just waiting for Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe either. Austin Hedges is hoping the Padres can fail…and learn from it to rise up higher.

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