The Arizona Diamondbacks have had a busy offseason thus far to say the least. While some of their trades and signings have certainly taken center stage, it’s one of their more understated moves that could prove quite valuable.
The D-backs signed veteran infield-outfielder Eric Hinske to a one-year, $1.35 million contract this winter to serve as the team’s primary left-handed pinch-hitter off the bench.
Hinske will enter his 12th major league season in 2013 and played the last three years with the Atlanta Braves, where he thrived in a similar role.
The 35-year-old, who resides in North Scottsdale, has fully embraced his role a pinch-hitter and is excited to provide some pop in the late innings for the D-backs.
“It’s a mentality you need to have as far as relishing that [pinch-hitting] role,” Hinske told Arizona Sports 620’s The Hot Stove Show on Monday. “You have to want to be good at it, you have to want to do it and you’re not going to get the job done all the time. If you hit .250 as a pinch hitter, you are one of the best in the game.”
Hinske has a career .218 average as a pinch-hitter with eight home runs and 36 RBIs. He hit .197 with two home runs and 13 RBI in 132 at-bats with the Braves in 2012.
The veteran credits his former managers for getting him regular at-bats throughout the season, which he feels helped him have more success coming off the bench.
“You’re definitely going to be a little more fresh if your manager understands the importance of giving his bench guys a start here and there,” Hinske said. “It keeps his starters fresh on the field. I think myself and Eric Chavez will do a good job of just going in there whenever they ask us too and playing whenever our name’s in that lineup card.”
In Atlanta, he was lauded for the leadership he provided in the clubhouse and was often praised for being a great teammate who took young players under his wing. Now in Arizona, Hinske has expressed a desire to work closely with the D-backs’ young hitters.
“[Goldschmidt]’s definitely got a bright future, a young stud for sure and I’ll do all that I can to help him,” Hinske stated. “That’s what I feel like I am good at now. I just want to help the young guys come along and keep playing this game as long as they’ll let me.”
Despite enjoying his role mentoring young players, the veteran said he too was still very much the student while with the Braves. Hinske said he learned a tremendous amount about hitting under the watchful eye of former teammate Chipper Jones during his final major league seasons.
“He’s probably if not the best, one of the best third basemen to ever play the game and definitely a first ballot Hall of Famer,” Hinske said. “It was awesome picking his brain. He taught me a lot about hitting and what he does with his approach at the plate.”
Hinske has certainly obtained a wealth of knowledge at the plate over his seasoned career that will undoubtedly help shape the young D-backs’ hitters of the future.