Clemson's Felder trying to rewrite scouting reports
CLEMSON -- Brad Felder knows what opponents write about him in their scouting reports.
How does he know? He has spies.
"I have buddies that play for other teams and they'll just tell me what the scouting report is," Felder says. "I pretty much know what I'm getting."
Clemson opens a three-game series at 6 p.m. today at Virginia (12-8-1, 2-4 ACC), and Felder can expect to see plenty of breaking balls when he steps to the plate. Clemson (11-8, 3-3) needs Felder, who played at The Citadel last season, to add pop to what has been at times a punchless lineup.
"When I was at The Citadel my first year, I hit a few home runs and I think I hit every one of them on fastballs, and ever since then it's been breaking ball, breaking ball, breaking ball," Felder.
Felder, who practically lives in the weight room, is built like a running back. He is 6-1, 215 pounds and always bounding with energy. When he steps in the batter's box, Felder says he carries over that weight-room intensity in the form of an aggressive approach, gripping the bat tightly, swinging hard and early, hoping to see a fastball. That aggressiveness has made him susceptible to breaking balls.
"I'm just trying to calm down," Felder said. "I'm always working out and stuff, so I get up to the plate and I feel like I have weights in my hands."
Clemson coach Jack Leggett has worked with Felder on staying relaxed, hitting the ball the other way. They have worked countless repetitions at soft toss, which involves a coach tossing balls to the outside part of the plate, forcing a left-handed hitter to be patient, stay back and drive balls to the opposite field.
The approach might be beginning to pay off.
After entering the Boston College series with a .171 average, one home run and four RBIs, Felder showed progress last week. He hit a home run Friday, another homer Saturday and had the go-ahead RBI off a changeup Sunday.
He has gone 5 for his last 18 with five RBIs.
"He's capable," Leggett said. "He's learned to keep himself back a little bit and take the ball the other way. … He's strong, he's a little bit raw, but he's dangerous, too."
Felder almost gave up the game last year.
After graduating from The Citadel and a failed workout with Atlanta Braves, Felder was ready to go to work for UPS and give up his final year of eligibility. He knew he had limitations as a player -- namely those baffling breaking balls. But his mother, Bobbie Felder, a former women's basketball standout at Clemson, urged Felder not to give up the game.