Mark McGwire can't help but smile when thinking about the time work begins for him each day as the Dodgers' hitting coach.

"My job starts in the morning right after I take my kids to school" McGwire said. "I come home look at some video of the pitcher we are going to face and make some notes. I then come to the ballpark look at some at-bats from guys the night before and then go into the cage with the players."

After spending three seasons as the Cardinals' hitting coach McGwire is in his first year in the role for the Dodgers. While he said it took some time to adjust to Los Angeles it's been a learning experience he's thoroughly enjoying.

"It is the same approach in both places but it just goes back to knowing hitters" McGwire said. "Some players have been up here for a short amount of time while other have been around for seven eight 10 years and have their own approach. It is me learning them and understanding them and then communicating things and playing off each other.

"It takes time to learn each person and what kind of hitter they are and what they are like. Communication is huge. Lots of it. They are all terrific hitters but like I've said to them Rome wasn't built in a day."

That can definitely be said for this year's team. After struggling the first few months of the season with a 38-43 record and a combined team batting average of .256 through June 30 the tide began to turn come the second half of the season. Since July 1 the Dodgers are 52-23 with a combined batting average of .275 something that helped them secure the National League West.

"A hitting coach is a thing where it is a blend of personalities and he has to deal not just with the hitting side but with guys and the way they are feeling and coping with success or not having it" outfielder Andre Ethier said. "He has stepped right in and made guys feel comfortable and knows how to talk through things."

Once things began to click for players at the plate you could not only see it in their balanced compact swings but in their body language. They felt like they were going to succeed.