With the memory of a surprising power outage from the 2012 postseason prevalent, hitting coach Kevin Long plans on getting down to Tampa not too long after the first of pitchers and catchers report for training camp. In an interview with Dan Martin of the New York Post, Long described the empty feeling of watching an inept Yankees offense get swept out of the American League Championship series,
“It took a little longer for the sting to go away," Long said of the sweep. “I feel like I've had a great career and done a great job, but that was a tough week. I feel good moving forward.”
While acknowledging the difficulty of watching Alex Rodriguez, one of his hardest-working and most loyal pupils, struggle through the hip ailment that now leads to Rodriguez being out until after the All-Star break, he eagerly anticipates getting to work with a new Yankee signed this offseason. Last week, Long made a trip out to San Jose, California to watch film and begin working with third baseman Kevin Youkilis,
“We looked at old film and compared it to 2012,” Long said. “We saw some considerable differences, mainly in his stance and it looked like the adjustments had an impact. I think we can get him back to being an all-star caliber player.”
While Youkilis' glove and plate discipline make him a more than adequate fill-in for the injured Rodriguez, a career low in batting average and an overall struggle with right-handed pitching last season gives Long a nice reclamation project to restore confidence in.
The good news is with 19 home runs and 60 RBIs last season in time split between the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago White Sox, Youkilis should not be too difficult a project for Long as he didn't fully lose his power. In addition, Youkilis is only two seasons removed from being a consistent .300 hitter.
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