Whether Meulens' influence has as much of an impact as the arrivals of Aubrey Huff and Mark DeRosa, the Giants' primary offseason acquisitions, remains to be seen. But thus far, multiple hitters have responded to his message.Meulens urged catcher Bengie Molina, a habitual first-ball hitter, to exercise more patience at the plate. Molina has complied and is batting .375. "For all my career, I've been very aggressive," Molina said. "But, yes, I want to work on taking some more pitches. The more pitches you see, the better you should be. Hopefully it works." Center fielder Aaron Rowand has admitted that his .266 batting average in two seasons as a Giant is underwhelming. Meulens studied videos of Rowand's three previous seasons -- as he did with each Giants hitter -- and scrutinized still photographs. Rowand now stands more upright and has eliminated a hitch in his swing. He's batting .500. "So far, so good," Rowand said. "Spring's not over yet. I'll try to work on it and be consistent." Said Meulens of Rowand's lofty average, "I know it's not going to stay like that all year, but it's encouraging to see his adjustments work right away." Nate Schierholtz, the projected everyday right fielder, lifted his spring average to .308 with a seventh-inning, ground-rule RBI double against the A's. Schierholtz, one of several hitters Meulens visited during the offseason for hands-on tutelage, appreciates his new coach's approach. "He makes you feel good about yourself when you swing the bat well, or even when you don't," said Schierholtz, who was playing winter ball in Puerto Rico when Meulens came calling. Catcher Eli Whiteside, who has encountered numerous hitting coaches in 10 professional seasons, paid Meulens a high compliment. "He's one of the best hitting coaches I've ever worked with -- or the best hitting coach I've ever worked with," Whiteside said on a Gcast interview. "[It's] not just his knowledge of hitting, just the way he's able to communicate with a player and take certain drills that work for me. He's able to work with each player in a different way." Or, as Molina said of Meulens, "The thing I like about him is that he doesn't try to change you. He works with what you have." A .220 hitter in parts of seven Major League seasons with the Yankees, Expos and D-backs, Meulens tries to boost a hitter's productivity by maximizing his assets instead of spending hours upon hours on attempting to fix his flaws. "We work hard on their strengths so when the [pitch] is in their strength, they're not missing it," said Meulens, who replaced Carney Lansford. "Their weakness is always going to be their weakness. We work a little bit on it because it's what we do. But our strength is what we concentrate a whole lot on."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less