“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.”
Jeter’s lead foot has been easy to spot. That foot hasn’t stayed on the ground for every swing, proving that Jeter’s stride has not completely disappeared. And the stride was the most visible part of the changes.
The stride, though, was only a product of the greater goal, Long said. Primarily, Jeter is working to move directly and quickly to the ball. The important thing is that his foot doesn’t cross over toward the plate.
“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.”
On Saturday, Jeter made it clear that he didn’t want to keep discussing his swing. The subject seems to have worn thin. Jeter is hitting barely better than .200 – and he’s hitting a lot of balls on the ground again – but Joe Girardi said he won’t make any judgments until Jeter’s had 100 to 150 at-bats.
“Obviously I would love for the results to be there, but all you have to worry about is being comfortable,” Jeter said. “I felt pretty comfortable the last few games. (Sunday) I’m sure you could have thrown anybody out there that was comfortable and it would have been an uncomfortable day for them. As long as I’m comfortable, then I’m confident the results will be there.”
There’s no denying that Jeter’s not hitting right now. At this point, it seems the Jeter followers fall into two camps: Those who believe he’s finished based on what he’s shown so far, and those who are reserving judgment until he’s played more than a week and a half. What Long took exception to was not that Jeter’s struggling, but rather the idea that he’s no longer working on the things he set out to master.
“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.”
Associated Press photos