Last season was the worst year in Derek Jeter‘s career. So he spent a lot of time this offseason working with Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long and with the success Long has had with some other Yankees there were big expectations. Unfortunately Jeter has started off the season hitting just .206 and appeared to have abandoned the swing last week. Only Long is denying that Jeter has ditched the adjustments.
“Everybody is talking about abandoning stuff. That’s so far from the truth,” Long said. “I think it’s wrong to write because that’s not right. He really has stayed to the plan. What you want to do when you step in the box is compete, and that’s what he’s doing.”
“He’s trying to keep his stride direction and keep his stride short,” Long said. “You work on it as long as you can, and when you go into the game, really all you can do is compete. And that’s what he’s doing… We talked about getting him more in line. That’s it. When we started it we did it with no stride. He’s picked up at times and set it down. And there’ll be times when he goes in, and we’ll discuss it.”
“For somebody to say he’s not doing things the way we set out to do, that’s not the truth because he’s really worked hard at it,” Long said. “I don’t agree with that. I think it’s completely opposite of what he’s been trying to do and trying to accomplish.”
So Long is trying to sell us on the fact that the changes for Jeter are not about him having or not having a stride, but him staying in line with the plate instead of diving into it. Seems simple, but remember even if Jeter adapts this new approach and does it comfortably there is still no guarantee that he will be able to slow down the aging process. Jeter’s swing was never really the problem. The swing he had for the past 16 seasons left him with a career .314 average. Not too shabby.
So it’s good to hear that Jeter hasn’t abandoned all of the work that he and Long did this offseason and more during the preseason, but just because he is sticking with it doesn’t guarantee results. At this point though Jeter is already 36-years-old and he is slowing down, adjustments are a necessary part of the game and it is good to hear that he is sticking with his even if he’s already adjusted the adjustments.