“We worked on a couple of things as far as emphasizing using my back side more,” Wells said. “I wanted to use my hands so much (recently), I ended up pretty much only using my hands and not really getting my lower half into my swing. (Monday) in the cage and during batting practice and the game, I just really emphasized using my legs and using my back side. Obviously I got the results in the game, but just during batting practice and the work (yesterday), the ball is jumping off my bat like it should. I’ll just keep doing it over and over again to where it becomes natural and not have it a conscious thought.”
As long as Zoilo Almonte keeps hitting until Curtis Granderson comes back, there’s little reason for Wells to become an everyday player again, but there’s also little reason to believe he’ll be falling off the roster any time soon. After a terrific start to the season, Wells fell into a prolonged slump in mid-May. There are plenty who believe that “slump” was simply the reality of what Wells will be going forward, but he’s hit .316 since that game-winning pinch hit on June 22, and he’s still a .295/.330/.419 hitter against left-handers this season.
The Yankees seem to be banking on the idea that he can — at the very least — get things straightened out enough to be a platoon player for the rest of this season and into next year.
“We looked at a lot of video and matched up a lot of video,” Wells said. “Everything looked the same (as earlier in the season). Whether it’s approach, whether it’s pitch selection, there’s so many different variables that go into hitting a baseball. If you’re a quarter of an inch off every at-bat, you’re going to be in a bad place. The things Kevin and I are working on now, incorporating my lower half, it’s going to make me stronger without trying to swing harder.
“If you can get to a strong position and not have to think about doing things harder, then you can hopefully slow things down and still hit balls hard. (Monday) it was more of a conscious effort to think about getting into strong positions and using my lower half. I felt like I was catching balls deep but he’s like, no you’re not catching balls deep, you’re catching them right where you want to. You’re actually using your lower half and allowing them to get to you.”
Wells went 2-for-3 while starting against a left-hander on Monday, and he actually seemed most proud of his one out because it was a changeup that Wells stayed on and lined to right field.
“I hit it to right off the end of the bat, and it still traveled well because I wasn’t trying to reach for it,” Wells said. “I was using my lower half to get to it. He went back for it and I’m like, I can’t believe he’s going back for this ball. Even though it was an out, it showed me a lot of what my swing could be if I repeat that.”
At this point, Wells has most certainly entered show-don’t-tell territory. He’s been so bad for so many weeks that it’s going to take much more than a handful of singles and one two-hit game to convince anyone that he’s turned things around and can have a positive impact going forward. It’s been 131 at-bats since his last home run.
“Trust me, I know,” Wells said. “I’m the one who’s getting in the box every day.”
Associated Press photo