The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

January 20, 2013

Mabry ready for role as Cardinals hitting coach

By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer

— The St. Louis Cardinals have a new hitting coach for the 2013 season, but don’t expect any noticeable changes in philosophy.

When former Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire left to be a coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis promoted assistant hitting coach John Mabry to the lead spot.

Mabry discussed his new role during the Cardinals Caravan on Saturday at Missouri Southern’s Taylor Performing Arts Center in Joplin.

“We’re very similar,” Mabry said. “We’re not going to change a whole lot this year. We’re not going to reinvent the wheel. The guys we have are pretty established and pretty experienced and have done a great job, so we’re going to stay on the same path.”

It’s difficult to argue with the path the Cardinals have taken.

In 2012, the veteran-filled Cardinals advanced to the National League Championship Series after finishing the regular season second in the NL in team batting average (.271) and first in on-base percentage (.338).

Mabry said veterans like outfielder Carlos Beltran, catcher Yadier Molina and outfielder Matt Holliday don’t need a lot of direction in terms of hitting mechanics.

“The biggest thing is game plans and getting those together,” Mabry said. “These guys are pros. They know what they’re doing. You just got to be there for them and be an extra set of eyes for them.”

Dealing with game plans is nothing new to Mabry, who played 14 seasons in the majors for St. Louis, Seattle, San Diego, Florida, Philadelphia, Oakland, the Chicago Cubs and Colorado. He had three stints with the Cardinals — 1994-98, 2001 and 2004-05.

The outfielder and first baseman played in 24 postseason games during his time with the Cardinals. He finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year vote in 1995 when he hit .307 with 41 RBI over 129 games.

Mabry joined the Cardinals staff as assistant hitting coach last year with no expectations of being promoted.

“I didn’t have aspirations to be,” he said. “I never sought out the position. It kind of sought me out. I’m happy to be here. I’m happy with the role. I learned a lot from Mark (McGwire). I’ve learned a lot in the Cardinal organization.”

Mabry was a teammate with former catcher and current Cardinals manager Mike Matheny during the 2000s.

“We get together really well and understand what it takes to win,” Mabry said. “It’s fun to be a part of what the players have going on a day to day basis. You watch them grow.”

The full Cardinals team is report to spring training on Feb. 15 in Jupiter, Fla. St. Louis opens the regular season April 1 at Arizona. The Cardinals’ first home game will be April 8 against the Cincinnati Reds.