Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Jaso Stays Calm, Even Though Mired in Lengthy Hitting Slump Lessons Learned Help Him Cope with Less Playing Time

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Jaso Stays Calm, Even Though Mired in Lengthy Hitting Slump Lessons Learned Help Him Cope with Less Playing Time

Article excerpt

His long blond dreads and calm demeanor help John Jaso stand out from the rest of the Pirates. So does his vegan diet.

"I think I'm different," Jaso said, pointing to a container labeled 'Vegan Organic Plant-Based Protein' in his locker at PNC Park. "I'm definitely different."

How different? Over the All-Star break, Jaso and his girlfriend visited a "hippie island" in Mexico and hung out with whale sharks, one of the largest known species of fish, which can grow up to 60 feet in length.

Jaso, of course, was calm. He tries to keep a level head whether he is mingling with sharks or struggling at the plate.

Through Monday, Jaso was hitting .216 with a .308 on-base percentage in 227 plate appearances this season. His batting average didn't reach .200 until late May, and his playing time has decreased drastically since left fielder Starling Marte returned from an 80-game suspension. But Jaso doesn't mind.

"I'll just hang out on the bench," he said earlier this month. "I mean, how can you really complain?"

Jaso's demeanor was not always so calm.

When he began his major league career with Tampa Bay, he said he wore himself out during games, hitting a wall around the sixth inning because he overworked himself beforehand. "Whether you're a pitcher or a hitter . this game is going to humble you."

As the years went by, that didn't happen as much, as Jaso worked less on honing his skills and more on his mentality. The lesson he learned: Don't overdo it.

He said he realized what separates successful players is their mental approach to the game

"That's a big part about it, because everybody fails. Whether you're a pitcher or a hitter, you're going to fail, and this game is going to humble you."

What does he change in his game when he's failing? Not much.

"I got really hot and then I cooled off a bit," Jaso said of his late June and early July. "I still feel like I put up a good at-bat or whatever, but it's just not happening, so I'm just going to continue doing what I do, my same approach, and just go from there. …

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