Great stuff from my friend Ben Shpigel, who went down to Tampa to check in with Kevin Long during his three-day batting cage session with Derek Jeter.
Using Paul Molitor as something of a guide, Long has worked to simplify Jeter’s mechanics by — most significantly — eliminating Jeter’s stride. Shpigel notes that the change is similar to the adjustment Molitor made as he got older. Molitor hit .341 as a 39-year-old in 1996, one year after he hitting .270 (the same thing Jeter hit last season).
“It would have been asinine for me to go in and try to change him before,” Long said. “He’s been so good for so long, what really needed to be done? … Now, he starts to get jammed a little more. Maybe his bat slows down just a hair, but that’s significant. We can say age all we want, but I’m not buying into that. I think if we fix this, that age factor dissipates.”
Long and Jeter started working on these changes back in September — at the prodding of Joe Girardi — and the early results were encouraging. They’ve spent the past three days continuing that work, and they’ll dive into it again when Jeter reports to spring training in a few weeks. The whole story is a really nice read, something concrete during these days of speculation and rumor.
Associated Press photo