J.T. Realmuto has parts of nine big-league seasons behind him. The Phillies catcher has won two Silver Slugger awards and he’s been named an All-Star three times. But throughout his career, he’s always felt his timing was a bit off. Because he felt rushed, he wasn’t able to see the ball as well, which affected his plate discipline. He’s found himself chasing for pitches more than he should have, especially with two strikes.

According to Baseball Savant, Realmuto’s chase rate, with the exception of two seasons (2018 and 2020), has consistently been within the bottom half percentile of the league. He always wanted to improve his plate discipline, but he never felt he’d get the support to make those changes, until he met new Phillies hitting coach Kevin Long.

» READ MORE: Phillies send top prospect Bryson Stott to triple A

“I need to be able to walk and get on base for the guys who are getting behind me,” Realmuto said. “In the past, I’ve been a guy who doesn’t walk as much as he should because I’ll chase a little bit, or I’ll put pitches in play that I’m not necessarily able to do damage on, because they’re perfect pitches.

“I want to be more selective in the strike zone, swing at more pitches that I can do damage on. And then if I’m not getting those pitches to hit, just take my walks and get on for the guys behind me.”

Long, who was hired in October, and Realmuto met in Florida a few days before the lockout, armed with the same goal: to simplify his swing, improve his timing and, subsequently, help him see the ball more clearly. Realmuto was rehabbing his right shoulder at the time, and wasn’t able to take swings, so Long and his pupil stood in the batting cages, going through different strides, testing out leg kicks.

They settled on something Realmuto said is quite a bit different from any stride he’s used before. In the past, his leg kick was much higher, so high that it almost seemed like his quad was parallel to the ground. Now, it’s lower, and at a different angle. He just lifts it up a little bit and drops it back down.

Realmuto said that change alone has made him feel more on time.

“It takes less time for me to get into my hitting position,” he said. “The time it took from when I started my leg kick, to when my foot got back to the ground, was quite a bit longer than it is now. What we’ve tried to do is simplify everything, use smaller movements. Let my eyes take over, and trust my swing more, so I don’t feel like I have to rush.”

» READ MORE: Kyle Schwarber’s karmic double caps overdue outburst for Phillies in 8-2 victory over Rockies

Realmuto’s bat, alone, has made him one of the most hardworking catchers in baseball this season. He had played in 16 of the Phillies’ 17 games entering Tuesday, and with the way he’s hitting — .306/.348/.419 — it’s been hard for manager Joe Girardi to find opportunities to rest him.

“We started to see the results [of his work with Long] in spring training,” Girardi said. “There were times when his leg kick got really big last year, and for a hitter, that’s pretty hard to manage. He’s tried to simplify it, and I think it’s helped him. I think as he sees more at-bats he’s going to see even more production.”

Realmuto is still looking to improve his chase rate and his walk rate. He’s chasing balls outside of the zone 33.3% of the time, according to Fangraphs, and walking 6.5% of the time, both figures a regression from years past. But he believes that as he gets used to his new stride, those numbers will improve.

“I’m definitely feeling more on time,” Realmuto said. “I’m still fighting some of the urges that I’ve had in the past where I’m still chasing a little bit more than I’d like to with two strikes. It’s just an old habit of feeling like I have to rush.

“I have so much more time now that it should get better with time, as I get more confidence in my swing, I won’t have to overthink things at the plate. It’s definitely heading in the right direction. It’s not where I want it to be yet, but I feel pretty good with it so far.”

» READ MORE: Phillies’ Didi Gregorius feels ready to play; Bryce Harper to throw on Tuesday