World

Better since the break, DJ LeMahieu connecting with Yankees hitting coach Sean Casey

[ad_1]

TAMPA — DJ LeMahieu appeared lost at the plate for most of the first half, but the former batting champion has shown off more of a vintage swing in recent weeks.

LeMahieu is slashing .311/.423/.476 with five doubles, four home runs and six RBI in 30 games since the All-Star break. For comparison, the Yankees infielder hit .220/.285/.357 with 13 doubles, seven homers and 27 RBI in 76 games prior to the Midsummer Classic.

That stretch had folks wondering if the days of LeMahieu’s machine-like production were over after a foot/toe injury derailed his 2022 season. But the 35-year-old appears to have come out on the other side of a prolonged slump, even if he won’t say so.

“I don’t feel like I’m out of anything,” LeMahieu said Friday after the Yankees beat the Rays at Tropicana Field. “We’ve got a month’s worth of games left. It’s just continuing to move forward and continue to improve and be better.”

LeMahieu spoke after a 3-for-4 performance that also saw him record his first multi-homer game since May 7, 2021. The veteran hit a pair of solo shots, first taking a sharp Zach Eflin deep in the fifth inning before getting to Trevor Kelley in the eighth.

The power surge helped the Yankees cruise to a 6-2 win.

“It was so good to see,” said Aaron Boone, who highlighted “a little, subtle adjustment” LeMahieu made to his load at the plate. “That’s building some speed in his swing and keeping him in the zone with a little more authority. And we’re seeing the patient at-bats, too. He was aggressive tonight, but he’s been getting on base at a big clip, too, which is always a huge part of his game.”

LeMahieu, meanwhile, said that his load has been “a lot better. It’s a lot more consistent. I feel like I’m in a better spot.”

That particular aspect of LeMahieu’s hitting mechanics has been a focus for months. Former Yankees hitting coach Dillon Lawson discussed an issue with LeMahieu’s load in June, explaining that the hitter was not striding toward the middle of the field.

“When you swing, your energy should go right out to center field, straight. His stride’s a little bit more toward shortstop right now,” Lawson said, which was causing LeMahieu to fly open.

Lawson worked on adjustments with LeMahieu in the cage, but the hitter didn’t start to see results until after the Yankees replaced the coach with Sean Casey during the All-Star break.

On Friday, LeMahieu called Casey “a huge help for me.”

“I relate to him really well,” LeMahieu continued. “Great positive energy, great guy, and he’s great to talk hitting with.

“We have similar approaches to the game and hitting. A lot of stuff he says, for me, it brings me back to other times in my career that I’ve come out of [slumps].”

While LeMahieu has not been critical of Lawson, Brian Cashman recently said that the fired hitting coach had not connected enough with players.

“You have to get player acceptance or buy-in, and that connectivity or relationship building wasn’t there,” the general manager said on Aug. 23. “So I obviously made a change, something I’ve never done [in-season].”

While the Yankees’ overall offensive numbers haven’t changed much under Casey — something Cashman acknowledged — LeMahieu has certainly looked better since the switch.

Boone, meanwhile, is happy with the job Casey and the Yankees’ assistant hitting coaches are doing.

“Sean’s done a really good job connecting with these guys,” Boone said. “And that said, Brad [Wilkerson] and Casey Dykes, they’ve worked really well together. In some cases, we’ve seen results come. Others, it’s still been a struggle. But [Friday] was a really good night against a good pitching staff and a really good pitcher.”

()

[ad_2]

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button