Outfielder Nate McLouth, who was hitting .140 earlier this year and got released by the Pirates, is now thriving with the Orioles. He is batting .306 in 16 games this month.
How did he go from such a low point to playing so well for the Orioles in a pennant race?
The answer is McLouth put in the time to work on his hitting while he was with Triple-A Norfolk in June and July. He was very open to the coaching there from Tides batting coach Denny Walling and O's minor league hitting coordinator Mike Boulanger.
While McLouth prefers not to get into specifics as to what changes he made when working with those two men, he is very willing to give them thanks for their help. By the way, he had never even met either man before the trio went to work at Norfolk.
"Denny, the hitting coach there, and Bo (Boulanger), the roving hitting instructor for the minor leagues, were very helpful," McLouth said. "Just kind of freeing myself up at the plate and things like that. It has taken a lot of hard work on my part, and there is still hard work to do but I've certainly received a lot of good coaching along the way.
"Without giving anything away for competitive reasons, they helped me unlock a few things and get back to feeling comfortable."
In 40 games with the Orioles, McLouth is batting .274 with four homers, 15 RBIs, eight steals in nine tries and an OPS of .786.
Give McLouth credit for putting in the work to turn around his offense this year; during those pregame sessions in Norfolk, Walling and Boulanger found a very willing pupil.
"We kind of sat down and I said, 'Here's what I've been struggling with, and here is how I feel.' They watched me for a few days and got a feel of where I was at," McLouth said. "Then we went to work and it was great."
McLouth said he wasn't sure that the changes and adjustments they made would work, but he trusted the two coaches.
"That is the tough part," he said. "You want results right away, but you have to trust the process and that what you are doing is going to work."
In nine games since moving into the O's leadoff spot, McLouth is batting .297 with an .894 OPS. He gives the Orioles the combination of a player with speed and some pop in the bat at the top or the order.
McLouth doesn't get too reflective when thinking about where this season has taken him. He just says: "Absolutely, it's crazy. It's been a wild ride and is something I'll reflect on after the season."
After the season, McLouth will be a free agent, and his good finish to this season could make him popular to several teams. A return to the Orioles could certainly be possible, he said.
"Absolutely, of course," he said. "No question."