Sometimes the game comes easily. Cole Tucker experienced some of that during his rookie season last year, like when he hit a game-winning home run in his big league debut.
Often times, it is more difficult. Tucker experienced a lot of that last year, too. The 23-year-old former first-rounder finished the year with a .211/.266/.361 slash line and two home runs in his first year in the majors, and was optioned to the minors multiple times.
While he hit better in Triple-A Indianapolis and during his late season promotion, and his glove and base running abilities are more than major-league worthy, he still needs to prove he can consistently hit major-league pitching.
"Hitting is about being on time and hitting the ball hard and swinging at good pitches," Tucker said Saturday during PiratesFest. "So there [in Indianapolis] I was doing that. I didn't do as well of a job here. But I definitely feel like I hit the ball pretty hard here in the big leagues last year and I didn't find consistent results like I was in Indianapolis. I want to transfer that over and do that here, obviously."
Taking lumps as a rookie is hardly anything new. Just about every new big leaguer goes through those growing pains.
"Well (****)," Tucker joked when he was told that, "Reynolds didn't," he said, referencing Pirates standout rookie outfielder Bryan Reynolds.
"The game can teach you stuff and you can bounce back from it," he said after the laughter died down. "That's the approach that I'm taking, and that's what I believe in. I have a lot of optimism and confidence going into this year."