It’s extreme makeover: Curtis Granderson edition. Last August, Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long helped the center fielder remake his swing. While it’s not unusual for hitters to make adjustments throughout their careers, this was a complete overhaul. The results have been paying dividends ever since.
Granderson was traded from the Tigers to the Yankees for their top prospect Austin Jackson before the 2010 season. Most of last year, it looked like the Bombers had traded another young stud for a coveted name that had lost some of his shine. Not anymore.
The lefty hitter slugged a three-run blast to help lead the Yankees to a 5-2 victory at the Stadium on Sunday afternoon. It was his eighth home run of the season, a benchmark he didn’t reach until July 25th of last year. In fact, since Long helped Granderson rework his swing, he has hit 22 dingers. And he’s hitting lefties; actually he’s destroying them. The speedy outfielder is batting .350 against southpaws. He is, as radio announcer John Sterling says, “some kind of Grand-ish.”
Then there’s Derek Jeter. The Captain had begun tweaking his swing with Long during the postseason last year and continued to work on his new stroke during spring training. There was almost as much media coverage about this momentous occasion as there was about the Royal Wedding. And then, as quickly as killing a rally by rapping into a 4-6-3 double play, the toe tap was back and the adjustments were abandoned.
Jeter is hitting a paltry .250 and has as many extra base hits as the number he wears on his uniform. (That’s two for those of you living under a rock.) The 11-time All-Star says he’s done talking about his swing, but if he doesn’t reach his usual .300 average, Jeter’s going to have some explaining to do as to why he gave up so easily on Long’s adjustments.
The season is early. Jeter could still turn it around, but, at 36, he’s starting to look a little long in tooth. The time for him to get back in the swing of things may indeed be over.