Adjustments in stride yielding results for Jeter

Adjustments in stride yielding results for Jeter

Adjustments in stride yielding results for Jeter
TAMPA, Fla. -- Any concerns the Yankees might have had about Derek Jeter's reduced stride at the plate are dissolving, as the captain's stroke seems to be rounding into midseason form.

Jeter said that he has been happy with his progress, beginning his first full season with the tweaks hitting coach Kevin Long has incorporated to avoid being eaten up by inside pitches and pounding balls into the ground.

The 36-year-old shortstop went 1-for-3 in the Yankees' 6-2 Grapefruit League loss to the Braves on Friday, and after a slow start is now hitting .333 (8-for-24).

"This isn't the first time I made an adjustment," Jeter said. "It's the first time it's gotten a lot of attention, but this is something that happens throughout the years. It's going to take a while before you're 100 percent comfortable with it, but you still think about things."

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Long advised Jeter to cut down the amount he strides toward home plate last Sept. 11 during a series against the Rangers in Texas, and as Jeter attempts to rebound from a career-low .270 average in 2010, the idea is to knock out the stride altogether.

"There was a lot talked about the first three games where he hit six ground balls, and everyone was kind of [saying], 'Here we go again,'" Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Then he started hitting line drives all over the place, so I've been happy with it."

The change allows Jeter slightly more time to see pitches and also may permit him to pull the ball more, while still keeping open the option to go to right field on outside pitches.

Jeter said that the new approach doesn't completely feel natural, and Girardi said that Jeter still seems to be thinking about the adjustments while batting.

"I think he thinks more than he probably ever has," Girardi said. "That's what we have to get rid of. We'll get him as many at-bats as we can."

Jeter said that he will instinctively pick up his left foot now and again, but he is getting better at blocking it out.

"I'm pretty sure it will always come up a little bit," Jeter said. "It's not a situation where you completely try to eliminate it. I'm trying to eliminate bad stride direction. As long as it's not going in the wrong direction, then it's fine."

Jeter said that he is past the point where he needs to confer with Long regularly about what he is feeling with the mechanical adjustments.

"We talk about at-bats and pitches, but we're not always talking about the stride," Jeter said. "I don't come running up to him and ask about my stride every day. I have an understanding of what I'm trying to do, and we have drills that we work on. But at this point, it's more at-bats and pitches."