(Busch Stadium) When Harrison Bader was optioned to Memphis on July 29th, he wasn’t surprised. Batting .195 at the time, he felt parts of his swing had deteriorated and rather than sulk, it was an opportunity to get things back on track.
“You’ve got to earn your way in everything in this game, regardless of where you’re at,” Bader said. “You never truly arrive anywhere in this game. The second you do, stuff tends to pass you by. It’s just another challenge and I’m proud of the work I did down there. It’s the same game, just a little bit sharper if you will. I’m just looking forward to playing, man. It’s just going to be great to put a Cardinals uniform back on which even though I was only gone for 20 days, I missed every second of.”
Recalled before today’s game, Bader hit .317 (20-63) with 7 home runs and 15 RBIs in 16 games at Memphis.
“Hitting’s a combination of things–mind and body,” Bader said. “When one kind of waivers a little bit, it does kind of affect you a little bit. So, just kind of regrouping, pressing the reset button, and going out there and playing in a non-pressure kind of zone, I guess if you will, down in Triple-A. I feel really good, everything’s working again and looking forward to doing what I was doing down there and helping contribute to wins.”
So what was the breakthrough moment? A bounce that went his way? A line drive that went to the gap?
“No bounce in the air,” Bader smiled. “Just trying to get the ball in the air correctly. In order to produce those results you need to get everything moving back here correctly. (Motioned to back of his swing) Like I said, just pushed the reset button, regrouped a little bit, talked with Jobel–who is obviously up here now. He knows my swing really well, I’ve had him since A-ball. So just having that open dialogue and the open conversation on a day-to-day basis when I’m going in there for early work and everything just really helped me and kind of propelled me forward. Got to a point where it did click and you just be athletic and react from there.”
Like several of the other Cardinals players, Bader was surprised and disappointed about assistant hitting coach Mark Budaska losing his job. But it did mean a lot to Harrison that Mike Shildt called him to explain the team’s decision.
“I appreciate him for keeping me in the loop and everything,” Bader said. “One of the things he did say was even though you’re not here at this exact moment, you obviously still are part of the team–which made me feel really good. Again, that speaks to Shildty, not only as a manager but as a human being. I really did appreciate that. Sad as the news was, I obviously wish Buddha the absolute best, but this game you need to do what you gotta do and keep it moving.”
Tonight, Harrison Bader is starting in centerfield tonight and batting eighth.
“We’ve got guys that are playing well so I don’t want to get the cart before the horse,” said Shildt of a continued to run for Bader. “He’s earned his opportunity to come back, but we’ve also played well and guys have earned opportunities to continue to play. I think what you’ve seen and continue to see is opportunities being based on not production every night, but what’s giving us the best chance to win baseball games.”
RF Dexter Fowler
3B Tommy Edman
1B Paul Goldschmidt
LF Marcell Ozuna
SS Paul DeJong
C Yadier Molina
2B Kolten Wong
CF Harrison Bader
P Michael Wacha
photo credit: Brian Stull/STLBaseballWeekly.com