Today is a bit of a slow news day so earlier I shared with you about what the Yankees hitting coach was planning on working with Mark Teixeira on. So I figured I’d keep it going and talk about what he’s doing with Derek Jeter as well.
To bounce back, Jeter will work with Long on mechanical changes he began to institute last September. Jeter always has employed a “diving” style of hitting in which he takes a long stride in the direction slightly to the right side of second base. That is, he picks up his front foot and puts it down closer to the inside line of the batter’s box than where it began.
Last September, Long worked with Jeter on changes in the length and direction of his stride — making it shorter and straighter. They tried a modified version of how Albert Pujols picks his front foot barely off the ground and quickly puts it back down. Said Long, “We were in Texas one day and I said, ‘Are you ready to take this into a game now?’ And he said, ‘Okay. I’ll give it a shot.'”
The results were encouraging. In his last 28 games, including the postseason, Jeter hit .311 with a .393 on-base percentage. The stride changes allow Jeter to get into a good hitting position quicker. Long will continue to work with Jeter next week on changes to his stride, building on the work they began last year. “What happens to everybody as they get older is their quick-twitch muscles might not fire as fast as when they were younger,” Long said.
The pitching staff is worrisome in 2011, but I am pretty excited about the lineup. They’ve upgraded their DH by adding Russell Martin and moving Jorge Posada over, but that was just a minor move. The thing is, this team is scheduled for a big bounce back year offensively.
In 2010 they still lead all of baseball in runs scored, but that was with Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Derek Jeter having their worst season possibly of their entire careers. The thing is, it’s hard to believe all three of them are done and hitting coach Kevin Long is putting in the effort to make sure that they get the most out of all three of them.
Look at what Long did with Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher, and to a lesser extent Curtis Granderson. He has prepared each of them to have huge seasons in 2011. With those players in their prime driving this offense, and likely bounce backs from A-Rod, Tex, and Jeet, this 2011 offense could be brutal on pitching staffs.