Nady continues hot streak at plate

Pirates' Nady continues hot streak

PITTSBURGH -- Outfielder Xavier Nady, who has been the Pirates' most consistent offensive threat in the first month of the season, extended his career-high hitting streak to 14 games with a fourth-inning double against the Phillies on Saturday night.

Nady's hot start is proof that one can't always judge what a player is going to do during the season by Spring Training stats. Nady had a quiet spring, batting .175 with one home run and five RBIs.

"It's one of those things where I've always felt Spring Training might take certain guys a little bit longer to get going, and with the leg kick and with the timing mechanisms and everything I have in the swing, it is tough," Nady said. "I struggled all spring working on things, and once Opening Day comes around, I think you're pretty excited. You put your Spring Training stats behind you and you're on a different mental page."

"This game is very humbling," Nady said. "You try not to get too high with the highs and too low with the lows and remain on a nice even pace. I think most important for me is to have good at-bats and swing at strikes. Pitch selection is a big part of my approach, and you feel like you're comfortable in there and mentally relaxed and it makes the game a little bit easier. It's a game of adjustments, and you are bound to hit some bumps in the road during the season. It's just a matter of trying to keep them to a minimum."

Entering action on Saturday, Nady is hitting .344 with 23 RBIs. That is the most RBIs by a Pirates player in the opening month since Jeff King had 23 in 1996. Willie Stargell had 27 in 1971.

The other big factor for Nady is he is healthy. Last season, he missed games with a sore left hamstring and a concussion after being hit in the head with a pitch.

"No question that is big, and hopefully you're out there for every game," Nady said. "I'm trying to just stay on top of things and my leg is feeling good. I'm trying to be a little smarter with what I'm doing. Hopefully I can stay healthy, and that's all you can ask for."

Bucs manager John Russell is pleased with what Nady has brought to his lineup.

"Nady continues to come up with big hits for us," Russell said. "I think you have to attribute it to the approach he's taken. He worked on a couple different things with hitting coach Don Long to calm him down just a little bit with his stride.

"I think it's really paid off, especially with two strikes -- he's really laying off pitches and staying with the ball longer. He's really made himself a little more complete in the sense that even with two strikes, he's not panicking and he's got a good approach to hit, and he's stayed with that. He's done a fantastic job."

George Von Benko is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.