[Photo Via: The Poetry of Material Things]
Long determined the cause of Rodriguez’s struggles, detecting that the third baseman hadn’t been using the lower half of his body to ignite his swing. Rodriguez called it a “disconnect” between his lower and upper body. But what has been especially vexing for Rodriguez, who normally makes rapid adjustments, is that he has labored to make these changes. He knew what to do, but he didn’t do it.
“We’ve diagnosed the problem,” Long said. “It’s vivid. We know what it is. But Alex said there’s been some hesitation. He knows he has to use his legs and he’s telling himself to use his legs. But when it comes time to do it, he hesitates. It’s all about fixing mechanics.”
Rodriguez was so locked-in at the start of the season I have to assume he’s not been entirely healthy since his oblique injury. Man, it’s a beautiful, elegant swing. Just shows how hard baseball is even for the greats. He’s just that much off, and that much is the difference between great and average.
Rodriguez has six years left on his contract after this year. I just don’t see his body holding up that long, do you? And if he can’t swing like he’s accustomed to is he the sort of player who can change his game and still find some success?
[Photograph by Hellen van Meene]
Through 24 spring training at-bats, Derek Jeter is hitting .333. Results are nice, but Jeter’s average is not what excites Kevin Long, the Yankees’ hitting coach. This does: On Friday, when Jeter was 1 for 3 with an infield single against Atlanta, he swung at the first pitch every time up. That he fouled them all off was irrelevant, at least to Long.
“Early on, he told me, ‘I’ll probably take a lot of pitches during spring training until I get comfortable,’” Long said of Jeter, who is known as a first-pitch hitter. “He’s not taking those pitches anymore. That tells me he’s getting comfortable with what he’s doing and where he’s at.”
…“He’s not smothering the ball anymore,” Long said. “He’s able to get to it. He’s created a path and a lane for the barrel to get to it a lot easier. Before, a ball might be on the corner and he’d have to fight it. Now, as long as it’s on the plate, he’ll get to it.”
Yanks are on YES this afternoon at 1 p.m.
Dear Alex, please don’t break.
In the Daily News, John Harper has a piece about Alex Rodriguez.
Mark Teixeira, who told reporters the other day that he plans to be “buried in pinstripes” does not want to start the season slowly, as he has done for the past two years. According to a piece by Ben Shpigel in the Times:
“To me,” the hitting coach Kevin Long said, “it’s taken him too long in the past to get going.”
…According to Long, Teixeira told him, “I’ve probably taken for granted my hitting is always going to be there.”
“I told K-Long, give me some tough love if you need to,” Teixeira said.
It says here that Teixeira will have a good start this time around. Fearless prediction, I know, but hoop, there it is.
[Photo Credit: NJ.com]
Derek Jeter put in some extra work with hitting coach Kevin Long and has some good results to show for it. Jeter has an 11-game hitting streak and is starting to drive the ball again. According to Ben Shpigel in the Times:
“Lately, what you’ve seen is a guy whose head is staying still,” Long said before Wednesday’s game against the Rays. “He’s much more direct to the baseball.”
The primary change involved shortening Jeter’s stride. Long noticed that Jeter’s left foot was moving toward the plate instead of toward the mound as he prepared to swing, a flaw that left him vulnerable to inside pitches and prevented him from making solid contact. “You’re going to see the ball a lot better, and your body’s more in control,” Long said. “Ultimately, everything’s going to be working in order.”
Hitting coach Kevin Long has promised to follow Robinson Cano home to the Dominican this winter and rebuild his swing. He has the technology:
The work there will be extensive and represents a complete overhaul of the infielder’s swing.
The promise is of a completely revamped player in advance of Spring Training. Long outlined pieces of his blueprint for Cano by eliminating excess action, while putting him in a better position to hit, squaring up more with the pitcher. Addressing Cano’s strike-zone discipline is also high on the to-do list.
“You’re going to see a huge difference visually,” Long said. “You’ll see less movement, an explosive, compact swing, and you’ll probably see more home runs. I think his average will go way up and I think his walks will go way up.”
MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch as the story.