Toy helps D-backs 'dispose' of bad at-bats

Toy helps D-backs 'dispose' of bad at-bats

LOS ANGELES -- Flush it away.

That's what D-backs hitting coach Jack Howell wants his hitters to do after a bad or frustrating at-bat.

This spring, Howell found a way to illustrate that point so that everyone could visualize it. The former big league third baseman ordered a small toy toilet that makes a flushing sound when you press the handle.

"Looking back on last year, I thought we as a team and as a coaching staff I think we kind of let past things linger on," said Howell, who joined the staff May 9 when hitting coach Rick Schu was dismissed along with manager Bob Melvin. "I thought there were some of us, and I include myself, where you keep thinking about the missed opportunities, then all of a sudden a new opportunity comes up and that slips by, too."

Howell placed the toy on top of the Gatorade jug and throughout the spring he would remind hitters to "flush that at-bat" and therefore have a better "plate presence" the next time up. It didn't take long for it to catch on among the guys.

"Spring it was getting flushed like crazy," he said.

Now that the intensity has picked up with the start of the regular season, there's less actual flushing, but the message has stuck.

"More now it sits there as a reminder," Howell said. "This is more just something that we can have fun with. They've understood it."