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Cougars Notebook: Tra Holmes hopes new approach pays off in new season

Diamondbacks' 11th-round pick in 2017 struggled with strikeouts last season

Tra Holmes [Sean King for Shaw Media]
Tra Holmes [Sean King for Shaw Media]

GENEVA – Tra Holmes had corrections to make on his swing in the offseason, and he's hoping the adjustments will soon pay off.

"I wanted to work on my approach to hitting," Holmes said prior to Thursday's home opener. The Cougars defeated the Clinton LumberKings 2-0.

"My swing [last year] was kind of in and out of the zone," Holmes continued. "So I wanted to make it where my bat was in the zone longer so I could hit more offseason pitches."

Holmes, the former 11th-round pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2017, is beginning the 2019 season with the Cougars after splitting time in Geneva and Hillsboro.

In 30 games in a Cougars uniform last year, the 22-year-old Tallahassee, Fla. native struggled with strikeouts, whiffing 38 times compared to 16 hits in 104 at-bats.

"The D-Backs had me develop a two-strike approach," Holmes said. "So, with two strikes, I shorten up and try to just hit some balls to right field and stay on balls more."

How the approach works this season will be a trend to watch in his development. Holmes struck out in all three plate appearances on Thursday.

The overall lineup construction and putting players in position to succeed will be an evolving process as the season develops.

"Nothing is all set in stone [with the lineup]," Cougars manager Vince Harrison said pregame Thursday. "We just want to try to put the guys in a position to succeed; it's got nothing to do with the past, it's just about lineup construction and trying to go off some feel right now."

"Hopefully, [Holmes] makes it hard for me to not put him in the lineup and try and get him more [at bats]," Harrison continued.

Read our story from last season on Holmes' journey through baseball here.

The Real Thing

Harrison had been through plenty of Opening Days as a former player and on the coaching staff. Thursday was his first as manager.

A victorious one, at that.

"I'm trying to portray my excitement to be on the field to them," Harrison said pregame Thursday. "I think there's some energy on the field; there's also a little bit of butterflies for a lot of them. This will be the first time under some lights, for a couple of them for sure."

One piece of advice that he used as a player and now manager still applies.

"Don't let the emotion of the game get you too hard, too low," Harrison said. "The way numbers are, people are constantly chasing numbers and stats...I wanted to encourage them that the approach is always going to be the way to go versus trying to achieve the result."

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