NEW YORK -- With the Yankees in the midst of one of their worst offensive droughts in recent memory, hitting coach Kevin Long had several of the club's stars on the field early on Tuesday for optional batting practice.
Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Andruw Jones were among the volunteers to hit early before the club's contest against the Royals, though that is an opportunity generally available on a regular basis and not a response to the club's 6-for-72 showing with runners in scoring position over the past nine games.
"We're trying to keep our focus to continuing to work, trying to have some fun," Long said. "It's been tough. There's not too many people in a good mood, including myself. When you're losing games, it's not a whole lot of fun."
The Yankees do regularly perform drills about situational hitting, and Long will instruct his hitters to approach at-bats as though there are runners on in various alignments.
That sort of work can help, but Long noted that there is luck involved, and the Yankees aren't getting much of it. For example, Raul Ibanez crushed a ball to the warning track in the third inning on Monday that could have cleared the outfield wall or hit the fence for an extra-base hit instead of landing in Alex Gordon's glove.
"These guys didn't all of a sudden become bad hitters," Long said. "I'm not all of a sudden a bad hitting coach. It's just where we're at right now. When you lose six out of seven, it's probably not just one thing; it's probably a bunch of things piling up on us.
"We need to try to enjoy this as much as we can and keep in mind that it is baseball. We've got to try and have some fun. It's not a whole lot of fun right now for anybody."