Austin Slater's swing changes pay off in first game back with Giants


SAN DIEGO -- Giants outfielder Austin Slater said he didn't ask for much data as he was reworking his swing in Triple-A this season. He preferred to focus on the results. 

So in Slater's second at-bat back in the big leagues Tuesday, the only number he cared about would have been three, as in the number of bases he picked up after lining San Diego padres pitcher Logan Allen's slider into the right field corner. The Giants executives evaluating Slater's future probably honed in on a different number, though. 

Slater's RBI triple in his second at-bat back left the bat with a launch angle of 22 degrees, a far cry from the 2.3 degrees he averaged last season and the 1.6 he averaged the year before. Three innings later, he took another step up the ladder. Slater hit a solo bomb off Phil Maton in the seventh inning of a 13-2 blowout of the Padres that had a launch angle of 31 degrees and landed about 400 feet away. 

"It felt great," Slater said after the Giants win, smiling. "That's what I've been trying to do all offseason and it was great to see it in play in a Major League game."

The Giants wanted Slater, who has good natural power, to tap into it by getting the ball in the air more, something that was communicated to him over the winter. Slater has been working on changes to his swing since, even spending time with a private instructor. He said he feels good about the work he got done over the winter and through spring training and three months with Sacramento. 

"It's definitely an adjustment as far as getting consistent with it," he said of the swing changes. "It's easier to do it once in a while, but the name of the game is consistency."

Slater was part of a consistent effort his first night back. The Giants crushed Allen, scoring six runs in the first five innings while hitting just about everything hard. They hit seven balls harder than 100 mph off Allen and finished the night with three homers, five doubles and a triple. They have 27 hits over the past two games and their 13 runs matched their franchise high at Petco Park. In addition to Slater's homer, Evan Longoria and Kevin Pillar went deep. 

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It was a boat race for most of the night, and Slater was happy to be right in the middle of it. He has always shown an ability to put the ball in play, and the package of natural power, speed and arm strength is impressive. The Giants just wanted to see him take it to the next level.

This was a good start. 

"He worked hard at it in the winter. He went out and tweaked his swing a little and I thought it looked good this spring," manager Bruce Bochy said. "I know the results weren't great (this spring), but I liked the swing, and I told him that."

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