Move over Dayan Viciedo -- two other hitters have approach changes that merit your attention
During an otherwise unremarkable game by the White Sox lineup, Tyler Flowers stood out with a couple of "quacktastic" plate appearances. He won a lengthy battle with Jason Vargas after going full to draw a one-out walk in the third inning, then came around to score on Blake Tekotte's RBI triple.
In his second trip, he blistered a double off the top of wall just right of center, about 418 feet away. He flied out to center in his third and final plate appearance of this day, with his line settling to .316/.480/.632 afterwards. In perhaps the only stat that says anything, he's struck out just three times (to five walks!) over 25 plate appearances.
While there's no way to know if this progress will carry over into April, it's nice to see Flowers smashing the ball early, if only to get the more rabid A.J. Pierzynski devotees off his back. But Flowers says that there are new developments behind the improvement, most notably the contributions of assistant hitting coach (and birthday boy) Harold Baines.
Those numbers aren't nearly as important as the positioning of his hands in each at-bat. He's trying to keep them at a consistent spot in the swing, basically staying where they start.
"I have a tendency to drop them sometimes which causes a whole misfire in the swing," Flowers said. "When they stay there, it has been good. I have a really good chance every at-bat to hit the ball hard. When they don't, it's not so good.
"But I've got two guys on me to let me know when it's happening and it's really only happened a few times. The good thing is, I've started to feel it myself. I'm learning and hopefully I'll be able to correct it if this does come up mid at-bat. I'll be able to feel it and correct it right away and give myself a good chance."
Fun fact: Pierzynski is hitting .276 for Texas this spring, but with a .250 on-base percentage. Even for him, that's impressive.
Just about every hitter tries to wipe out the back line of the batter's box as early as possible, so I've always appreciated Alexei Ramirez mixing it up by standing in front of the box.
Alas, it looks like those days have drawn to a close, as Scott Merkin continued to work the adjustment beat on Thursday:
"My set up used to be right up in front of the plate, and now I moved back," said Ramirez through translator and White Sox coach Lino Diaz. "That allows me to see the ball a little bit longer and make better adjustments."
Let's go to the tape! Here's where he stood last year:
And here's where he set up during his last plate appearance on Thursday:
I think we can say it isn't helping him get out of the way any faster. But yup, he's standing farther back, and given how much Ramirez has struggled against fastballs over the last two seasons, it seems like this makes sense. Ramirez is hitting .375/.423/.500 this spring, if you care.
On the leg kick front, Dayan Viciedo barely used it against Jason Vargas. He went 0-for-3 with a groundout and two strikeouts.