Kevin Youkilis' New Batting Stance Shows Commitment to 2013 Season
His gritty, hard-nosed style of play made him one of the most respected players in the game when with the Boston Red Sox, and he'll look to re-establish that same reputation in his first season with the Yankees.
Last season, Youkilis battled through the worst production of his major league career. Split between the Red Sox and Chicago White Sox, he batted just .235/.336/.409 with 19 home runs and 60 RBI.
He did not seem quick to the ball while at the plate and this resulted in a drastic decrease from his previous level of production.
To fix the issue—and to start off his Yankees career on a good note—Youkilis sought the help of hitting coach Kevin Long. Long, famous for turning Curtis Granderson into a 40-home run bat, has already noted mechanical flaws in Youkilis' swing and stance.
Jack Curry of the YES Network tweeted the most notable changes of the new-look Youkilis on Wednesday:
Interviewed Youkilis on Tues. He will revamp stance in 2013. Hands will be lower, legs will be wider apart and he'll be in more of crouch.
— Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) January 16, 2013
Yankees fans should be jumping for joy at this small tidbit of news.
Just in case everyone forgot, Rodriguez didn't exactly perform admirably. He hit .272/.353/.430 with only 18 home runs and 57 RBI.
Are you still uneasy about Youk in pinstripes?
These numbers seem easily attainable for Youkilis, especially if he's already committed to improving. Imagine what a few more months of work with Long can do for the former All-Star.
By the end of spring training, Youkilis could look like a guy that is no longer a shell of his former self.
While nobody is expecting him to hit .300, a .280 average should be well within the realm of possibility. As should 20 home runs and 70 RBI.
His on-base percentage should also be exceptional, especially when you consider that his nickname is the "Greek God of Walks."
If Youkilis is as committed to the 2013 season as it seems, then the Yankees may face a tough decision after the All-Star break when Rodriguez is scheduled to return.
It's safe to say that the Yankees really don't have much confidence in Rodriguez at this point. When he comes back, he shouldn't be guaranteed the starting job if Youkilis is hitting well.
He should go straight to designated hitter, a place where he seems destined to finish the life of his ridiculous contract in pinstripes.
In short, working with Long is a great start for Youkilis' tenure in New York. For Yankees fans who are still uneasy about employing another former "idiot," this should be the first step of many in convincing them that he's committed to the Yankees.
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