Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Nick Ahmed recorded several firsts in Friday’s marathon win over the Chicago Cubs.
The second-year pro hit his first home run of the season and later notched his first walk-off hit, giving him the first three-hit game of his big league career.
Friday’s performance was the culmination of an improvement in the batter’s box that has been about two weeks in the making.
After seeing his batting average plunge to .130 on May 11, the right-handed hitter has hit safely in seven straight games in which he’s recorded at least one at-bat, and he has four multi-hit performances in that span.
The 13th-inning, one-out walk-off single brought Ahmed’s batting average to a season-high .212.
— #VoteDbacks (@Dbacks) May 23, 2015
“I was just trying to get something up in the zone and drive (Tuffy Gosewisch) in, and got the two strikes and was just trying to making sure that slider was up in the zone, because (Zac Rosscup) had bounced one the previous pitch,” Ahmed said of his last at-bat Friday. “He left it a little bit elevated, and I was able to get the barrel on it.”
The 24-year-old Connecticut product then described his recent progress at the plate.
“I’ve made some improvements — made some adjustments,” he said. “Starting to put the barrel on the ball. Starting to see it a lot better. Our hitting coaches here have been awesome — Turner Ward, Mark Grace and even teammates here — just to stick with me and stay behind me and keep instilling confidence in me, even when I was struggling. That really helped a lot.”
Manager Chip Hale said he’s happy to see Ahmed making strides on offense.
“It’s exciting to see. He works so hard at all parts of his game that when he has success like this, you’re really happy for him,” the skipper said.
The infielder was already known for being quite proficient with his glove, but what were those offensive adjustments he alluded to?
“Keep my head still. Just kind of some basic stuff,” the shortstop said. “I’ve been able to see the ball better lately and not chase as many pitches and be ready to attack on pitches in the zone.”
Ahmed acknowledged that he started out the year in an “extended slump.”
“I’ve started the last few years slow,” he said. “Just know that it’s a long year, and that if you put in the work and do it the right way and trust in your process and preparation, things are going to happen well for you. I just try to trust my preparation (and) trust my coaching staff to help prepare me, and just let God take care of the results.”