There’s a certain sound that a major league hitter’s bat makes when you see it being wielded up close.

In the right hands, it splits the air with savage purpose; the compact whoosh of expertly-hewn lumber propelled by years of practice, precision and bad intentions. When it smashes into a baseball, the crack of the bat is like nothing you’ve ever heard unless you’ve heard it – deep, sudden, echoing; ringing to your core. A sound reserved for those who have sweat to earn the right to unleash it.

A month before spring training officially kicked off, we got to hear – and feel – that sound up close. We journeyed to a place where the art and science of hitting mesh together to produce that sound hundreds of times per day. In a Phoenix, Arizona suburb on a February morning, we immersed ourselves in the bastion of hitting that is Dustin Pedroia’s personal in-house, state-of-the-art batting cage to learn straight from three hitting geniuses: Pedroia, Los Angeles outfielder Andre Ethier and Boston hitting coach Chili Davis.

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