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Pitching and batting 1.000


FreshFish
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c/o MLB.com

 

Marlins left-hander Dontrelle Willis, the National League Rookie of the Year in 2003, is off to a terrific 2-0 start in his sophomore season. At the plate, he's equally impressive with his streak of six straight hits for a 1.000 average. Willis' column appears periodically on MLB.com.

Stringing together seven straight hits is great, don't get me wrong, but I'd rather it be a streak of seven consecutive wins.

 

As a pitcher, I do enjoy hitting. I try to do whatever it takes to win a game.

 

I just don't want it to get to the point where if I go 0-for-my-next-30 people are going to ask, 'What the heck is the problem?' It's just one of those things where I'm just trying to go out there and put pressure on the opposition. That's all.

 

Never in my wildest dreams would I think I'd start the season off with six hits in a row. When you count my final at-bat from last year, where I got a single, the streak is seven straight hits.

 

No way would I figure I'd be one hit away from tying the team record of set held by Gary Sheffield and Preston Wilson. Since going 3-for-3 with a home run in my last start against the Expos, I've learned the longest stretch of consecutive hits by a pitcher is eight in a row by Livan Hernandez when he was with the Giants in 2001.

 

Then I find out with my three hits in a playoff game against the Giants, counting the postseason, I've got 10 straight hits.

 

Now people are asking if I'm the next Babe Ruth? No, that's not me. I'm just trying to go out there and win ballgames. I don't want it to get to the point where I'm always tired for being on base, running around and stuff.

 

I always was competitive at hitting. I played first base in high school, and hit a home run in my last at-bat in high school. My senior year, I hit .629 and in league play my average was about .800.

 

When I was in the Cubs' organization, they let us hit a lot. In the lower minor leagues, they stressed hitting. . Even though we didn't hit a lot in the games, they made sure we were out there, bunting and slashing.

 

In batting practice with the Marlins, pitching coach Wayne Rosenthal throws a cutter that is pretty vicious. You have to be on point. I think hitting off him helps. Our other pitchers, Josh Beckett, Carl Pavano and Brad Penny can handle the bat. And Darren Oliver can flat out hit. I have never seen a swing like that on a pitcher. I gave up my first RBI to him last year when he was with the Rockies. He likes to mention it to me every day.

 

The bats I use are Juan Pierre's. It's not like I take his bat out of the rack in the dugout, they are J.P.'s model.

 

I started using J.P.'s bats the middle of last season.

 

Before then I was using a 34-ounce bat, a heavier bat. Every pitch that was up in the zone, I was having a little harder time getting around on. Early in the season, the only pitches I could get to were down. So I asked him if I could use one of his bats, and I've been using them ever since.

 

Sure, I can get a bunch of the same bats made for me. But it wouldn't be the same. That's J.P.'s bat, and he makes a lot of contact. That's the whole gimmick. That's why I do it, because it's J.P. He works hard. He always seems to be on base. And he's always talking to me. He's always in my ear, telling me stuff like, 'Beat 'em with a base hit, beat 'em with a base hit.' I'm like, 'What do you think I'm doing up here? I'm trying.'

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