Lexington Legends

Consistency, not power, is new hitting coach's goal

He's heard all the one-liners about self-scrutiny, self-pity and selflessness.

Todd Self is able to laugh, so long as it's tasteful.

And now he has the task of helping Lexington Legends hitters become Self taught.

Self is the Legends' new hitting coach, filling in while Stubby Clapp heads to Beijing to play second base for Canada in the Summer Olympic Games. Self arrived Tuesday to get a briefing from Clapp, who will leave the team during the upcoming road trip.

Kyle Miller and three Legends pitchers gave Self something to appreciate Wednesday night, a 2-0 victory over the visiting Columbus Catfish.

Miller, in only his fifth game with the team, had two of the Legends' four hits, including his second homer, with a man aboard in the seventh inning. Max Sapp had reached on a two-out walk.

Leandro Cespedes, Carlos Ladeuth and J.J. Pacella combined to shut out the Catfish.

Self played eight seasons of pro ball and was in spring training with the Astros this year, getting tips from Clapp.

“Stubby's a great hitting coach. We talked a lot in spring training,” Self said. “He brings a lot of knowledge.”

But, at 29, Self was old for a prospect. A few days before camp broke, he lost his playing spot but was invited to serve as bench coach with Double-A Corpus Christi.

A 6-foot-5, 225-pounder, the left-handed hitting Self hails from Shreveport, La., and played collegiate ball for Louisiana-Monroe.

As a pro, he played outfield and hit over .300 for four consecutive seasons before going .298 for Triple-A Round Rock in 2005. That also was the season he got the call to the big leagues, hitting .200 over 21 games with the Astros.

Last year with Corpus Christi, he earned Texas League all-star honors and hit .294 with 13 homers.

But long-ball is not his game. Gap-to-gap hitting, average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, run production. That's what Self did best and that's what he hopes to pass on to the Legends.

“Especially the guys who are struggling, try to get them to finish on a good note,” he said before Wednesday's game. “Because a lot of times (team executives) they look at ‘This guy struggled for four months, but how'd he finish? How was he in August?'”

Results may well be determined by plate “approach.”

“To be a good hitter, you've got to make the pitcher throw strikes,” Self said. “You obviously have to be aggressive but smart. I'm going to try to teach them to be aggressive in the strike zone. But try to really concentrate on the strike zone and, as soon as the ball shows up out of that area, let it go. ... Most of the time it's going to be a ball.”