SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The first thing outfield coach Gary Pettis looks for when he helps teach the pitchers how to bunt is fear. Yep, fear.
"Have you seen how fast that ball is coming?" Pettis said. "It takes some repetition to get used to that and be able to get that bat out and be ready for it. It's scary if you're not used to it. It's something you have to overcome quickly."
For Elvis Andrus and most of the other position players, it's no big deal. But for a pitcher who doesn't do it every day at batting practice and rarely in games, it's not as easy to get that bat where it's supposed to be, even in a drill in which the ball comes in at 80 mph or so.
"We worked on just going down the first-base line," Pettis said. "That's what they're going to do in most cases is get that runner from first [base] over to second."
The pitchers have to get used to the ball coming at them and where they need to place the bat to get the angle right so it goes down the first-base line.
"That takes time, too," Pettis said. "But it's just repetition. Now's a good time to do it where we have time to work on it."
They'll do it again as the team gets closer to interleague play. This year, with interleague games scattered all across the MLB schedule, it comes quickly with a three-game series in Chicago against the Cubs, April 16-18.
"You have to practice these things," Pettis said. "They all know it. We'll keep working and getting better."