Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hamilton's Big Night No Surprise to Hurdle

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hamilton's Big Night No Surprise to Hurdle

Article excerpt

While Clint Hurdle was in the throes of an exciting finish to a game at PNC Park Tuesday night, his former pupil, Josh Hamilton, was making history in Baltimore by becoming the first player since 2003 - - and 16th in history -- to homer four times in a game.

So, Wednesday afternoon, when the excitement had waned from both events, Hurdle pulled out his iPhone and sent a text to Hamilton, with whom he worked as the Texas Rangers batting coach in '10.

"I thought they outlawed using a tee in the American League the year before I got there," Hurdle texted.

For Hurdle, "a good day for me was four home runs in BP," he said.

But he was not surprised by Hamilton's latest conquest.

"He's one of the rare guys I don't think anything he did would really make you go 'I can't believe he did that,' " Hurdle said.

Hurdle can take some credit for Hamilton's continued success because the two worked during '10 to wean a toe-tap from Hamilton's plate approach.

"It's one of the few times I've actually challenged a player to change something dramatically during the season," he said.

After an "inconsistent" start, Hurdle said, the two had a sit down in which Hurdle suggested simplifying Hamilton's approach by taking the toe-tap out.

That's not to say Hurdle fixed Hamilton.

The slugger had a pretty good track record before Hurdle arrived in Arlington. But, if anything, Hurdle made a minor tweak to an elite hitter's approach that continues to pay dividends.

Now, Hurdle can sit back and watch in wonderment with the rest of the baseball fans.

"My dad came into Texas and watched a series," Hurdle said. "He finally just laid it out, 'I have not seen a young man play the game like that since I saw Mickey Mantle in his prime.' "

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