Results tagged ‘ Kevin Long ’

Kevin Long: “I’m doing everything in my power to try to correct it”

Kevin Long emerged from the coaches’ room after Wednesday’s 6-3 loss to the Rays, prepared to face the music after the Yankees’ season-high fifth straight loss and their ninth in the last 11 games.

The Yankees were just 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position on Wednesday, and though situational hitting has been one of their major concerns of the summer, it has been more difficult than anticipated to make progress in that department.

“You’re always focused on trying to do the little things, trying to score runs and trying to move runners and trying to get guys in,” Long said. “So that’s always a focus.”

Here is a rundown of the group interview that Long conducted in the Yankees’ clubhouse:

On the current issues with the Yankees’ hitters: “You’re obviously not scoring runs and you’re going to put some pressure on yourself. You’re going to try to do a little bit more. The guys are certainly well aware of what’s going on and they’re putting forth as much effort as they can. Just sometimes things don’t go the way you want them or you planned them.”

On being surprised by this, given the names in the lineup: “Yeah, it’s a little surprising. Certainly. You expect some of these guys in this lineup to perform, and at the end of the day and at the end of the year, you hope that those numbers are going to be where they should. I can tell you that they’re doing everything in their power to try to correct it. I’m doing everything in my power to try to correct it, and we’re just going to stay at it. There’s no simple formula. The work is positive and we’re working in the right directions. It’s just been tough.

What can a hitting coach do in this situation?: “You certainly can’t yell, scream or do any of that. It’s more about just staying the course and keep looking at video or maybe working on their swing or tee work, or doing flips or doing extra BP, all those things that you would normally do. Certainly that is something that we’ve really focused on and even you get away from that sometimes and you just see the ball. That’s all Beltran’s doing these last four games, and he’s been really good the last four games, so if he can continue to swing the way he has the last four. It looks like Brian McCann made a positive move today. You have to look at those things and you have to try to move forward on those, because we can’t get anything back that has already happened.”

On Yangervis Solarte needing to make adjustments: “When Solarte was swinging the bat well, he was very aggressive and he was swinging with authority. He’s just a little bit inbetween and a little bit unsure. We looked at his video and he’s a little hard to his front side and he’s just a little tentative. We’ll just stay at that.”

“I don’t think they’re pitching him any differently. He has taken some walks and for the most part swung at good pitches, but I’m sure he’s feeling it, just like a veteran would. He’s a rookie so someone like that will probably put a little more pressure on himself than maybe a veteran would.”

Encouraging signs from the rest of the lineup?: “Obviously, the top three have been pretty good all year, Jeet, Gardner and Ellsbury have swung the bat well. Ichiro has been pretty consistent all year. Teixeira has hit some home runs, driven in some runs. I think the biggest two we’re talking about is if McCann can do what he did today and Beltran — that’s four good games in a row where he’s really had good quality at-bats.

“We’ve kind of changed his routine and changed what he’s done as a DH to try to help that process become really active with him inbetween innings. Walking around, talking about things instead of just sitting in the video room and maybe thinking about an at-bat. So that’s been one adjustment that I think has moved in a positive way for us. So again I just hope that he continues on what he’s doing and McCann today was very positive.”

On Brett Gardner hitting for more power: “Gardy’s made adjustments every year he’s been in this league. He’s basically picked up where he left off last year. He’s an extremely confident individual who continues to get better and better, he’s a very aggressive hitter in the zone. He’s not late. He attacks fastballs and he doesn’t miss them. I think the consistencies of his mechanics in his swing have enabled him to this little power surge that we’ve seen.”

Ever think that maybe this is just what you have?: “It’s about winning games, and we need to do whatever we can to win games. Obviously offense has been an issue all season. These guys understand it, I understand it. We’ve got to turn it around somehow and you’ve got to believe the guys that are in the room, they’re the only guys that can turn it around. Again it’s not from lack of effort, it’s not from not wanting to do it, it’s just one of those things where we need these extra 80 games for guys to prove themselves. McCann is on a mission, Beltran is on a mission. Everybody needs to pick it up a little bit, including the Gardners, including the Ellsburys, and then these guys that have underperformed — they need to pick it up as well.”

On his early expectations for this offense: “I don’t know — obviously more than what we’ve done. Are we capable of scoring 4-5 runs a game? I would say so. Even when we had the powerful offenses, I would think four runs a game was kind of that mark that you shoot for. Jeet said it a bunch of times: let’s win innings, try to score every inning. You start there instead of trying to maybe put up a four spot or five spot all in one inning.”

On drastic changes: “Oh, we’ve done all kinds of stuff. You always make adjustments and always make changes. Nobody here probably even saw what Brian McCann did today. If you just look at his stance, look for a toe tap today and see if you see one. That’s one of those things where if you look at video, you can say see, ‘Whoa, he did make an adjustment.’ You’ll see those adjustments from guys as they go along. They’ll continue to make those adjustments to try to help themselves be more consistent.”

Will more bunting fix the Yankees offense?

The Yankees have spent most of the season proudly flexing their muscles and telling everyone that they’re a team built around home runs. It has gotten them this far, but now hitting coach Kevin Long is suggesting that if the Yankees want to hang some of that red, white and blue playoff bunting around Yankee Stadium, they may need to square up and drop a few down first.

Long believes that the Yankees may try having more of their hitters sacrifice runners over to get the flagging offense back on track. New York has been held to six or less hits in five straight games, something that hasn’t happened for them since Aug. 30-Sept. 5, 1990.

“Some of it has to do with some pitching and some quality pitches, but a lot of it has to do with — we’ve got to get back to the basics,” Long said. “We’ve got start doing some things. We might start having some guys bunt that you don’t normally see bunt. That might have to be the case right now, until we get it going.”

A perfect example, Long said, could have been the third inning of the Yankees’ 5-2 loss to the Rays. Derek Jeter singled and Curtis Granderson was hit by a pitch to start the inning, but the Yankees were turned aside as Nick Swisher struck out and Robinson Cano hit into an inning-ending double play.

“Maybe we take a guy like Swisher in the third inning today, when it’s first and second with nobody out; maybe he bunts,” Long said. “We’re going to talk about that and we’re going to address some of those things, and we’ll see if we can’t turn it around.”

Long said that the Yankees need to try something other than sitting around and waiting for big home runs, and said the suggestion shouldn’t be taken as an indication of panic.

“It’s not desperation, it’s about playing baseball,” Long said. “In playoff baseball, Justin Verlander’s out there and it’s first and second. What are you going to do? That’s the way it is. You have to do these things. I think we need to get more in that mode right now, and hopefully that turns it around.”

K-Long: Ibanez “a perfect fit” for Yankees lineup

Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long knows Raul Ibanez well from their days together in the Royals organization, and after the team officially announced Ibanez’s signing on Tuesday, Long said that he is excited about the acquisition.

“He’s a perfect fit for us,” Long said. “His professionalism, the way he goes about it, he’s an RBI machine. He can hit. It’s a nice addition. What he brings to the table, he’s just a terrific human being who brings a professionalism about him that you don’t find out there every day. I’m glad we got him; glad we picked him up. He’s going to be a big help.”

The Yankees see Ibanez as their regular designated hitter against right-handed pitching, with Andruw Jones hitting mostly against lefties. Long said that he believes Ibanez has enough left in the tank to help the Yankees.

“He’s 39, he’s getting older, but there’s plenty of bat speed there,” Long said. “That’s what you look for, first and foremost. I haven’t seen him up close and personal, and we’ll see what he’s got when he gets here, but I fully expect him to be a big part of our offense.”

Game 149: Yankees vs. Blue Jays

TORONTO — Greetings from north of the border, where Alex Rodriguez is out of the lineup once again with that nagging thumb but says he’s feeling more encouraged now than he has since first suffering the injury. Hitting coach Kevin Long suggested a new grip, one that has A-Rod separating his hands by about a half an inch so that his left thumb doesn’t make contact with his top hand, and the Yankees’ third baseman felt comfortable with it while taking live BP. Now, he’s thinking real positively about starting on Saturday.

“It’s the best I’ve felt in over a month, since the Mauer groundball, there’s no question,” Rodriguez said after coming off the field with seven rounds of BP under his belt. “It’s a good idea by Kevin, and we’ll just take this for a while and take it from there.”

Here are today’s lineup, with original Blue Jays starter Brett Cecil being scratched with a cut on his left finger.

YANKEES (90-58)
Derek Jeter, SS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, RF
Eric Chavez, 3B
Jorge Posada, DH
Russell Martin, C
Brett Gardner, LF
SP: LH CC Sabathia (19-8, 2.93 ERA)

BLUE JAYS (75-74)
Mike McCoy, SS
Eric Thames, LF
Jose Bautista, RF
Edwin Encarnacion, DH
Adam Lind, 1B
Brett Lawrie, 3B
Colby Rasmus, CF
J.P. Arencibia, C
Kelly Johnson, 2B
SP: RH Dustin McGowan (0-0, 9.00 ERA)

Girardi on Cano, who returned to the lineup after being struck in the foot by a pitch on Wednesday: “That’s one thing I don’t think people talk enough about is Robbie’s toughness. We’ve seen him hit plenty of times where we thought he wouldn’t play the next day or even stay in the game, and he does.”


Yanks’ Granderson can’t wait for spring

I had a chance to chat with Curtis Granderson for a story that should be posted this afternoon on, as the Yankees outfielder prepares to head to New Zealand as a Major League Baseball ambassador, his fourth such trip in helping the game grow overseas. 

With Spring Training just a few weeks away, Granderson is also ready for baseball to begin in Tampa, Fla. He plans to head down shortly after the Feb. 6 Super Bowl and is excited for his second season with the Yankees after experiencing some mixed results in 2010.
“I look at the good and the bad,” Granderson said. “As a team, we played well, and for myself individually there are a couple of things that I want to do better. There are things that you take with it that you’re happy with, so it’s kind of a mix. Of course the team is the most important, and I would have loved to continue playing. I’m excited for the 2011 season.”
Granderson’s season seemed to turn around in August, when he and hitting coach Kevin Long dissected his swing in the batting cages at Rangers Ballpark and cut out some unnecessary parts. Though Granderson won’t get a chance to see Long before Spring Training begins, he plans to work a lot in February and March to keep it moving in the right direction. 
“At the end of it, we just simplified everything,” Granderson said. “The changes actually weren’t that drastic; we just cut out things. The good thing about it is hopefully when I begin this offseason I’m able to easily pick back up what we’d been doing once I get down to Florida.”
While many would have liked to see the Yankees make a few more winter splashes, especially on the starting pitching front, Granderson said that he thinks the team the Yankees are bringing into camp looks “great” on paper.
“You see the free agents that were available this offseason, and of course all 30 teams would have wanted a lot of those guys,” Granderson said. “And of course you can’t get everybody. We had a great team last year, and there’s still a couple of question marks, like if Andy Pettitte is going to come back. But with the core that we have right now, I’m very happy and positive and excited about what we’ve got.” 
The Red Sox, most would agree, were one of the big winter winners. Granderson sees the movement in the American League East as a challenge, but one the Yankees can handle.
“The big thing for [Boston] is that they brought big pieces over,” Granderson said. “Who wouldn’t want Carl Crawford or Adrian Gonzalez? At the same time, it’ll be a little adjustment period for them as well and I think a couple of pieces will have to move. They’re going to be just as excited. 
“In our division, you saw teams like Baltimore make great moves. I think they’re probably one of the most underrated teams this offseason. It’ll be interesting to see what they do. Tampa Bay got a lot of talk with the guys that aren’t coming back, but again, it’s a completely different team than last year. Those question marks are always a threat.”

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