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February 16, 2014 at 9:13 AM

Some Sunday morning notes and links …. a mild swing/stance change for Mike Zunino

Yet another sunny day here in Peoria. I feel like Brick Tamland doing the weather.

“I love lamp.”

Here’s my story from yesterday’s paper on Charlie Furbush.

We have our first confirmed swing/stance change of the spring. I noticed it the other day while watching catcher Mike Zunino take batting practice – he had shortened up his stance up a little. His feet aren’t quite as wide as last year, and he also has opened up a little. A year ago, he was much wider and didn’t really stride into the ball. This year there is a definite stride into the ball. But it’s not dramatic. You’d have to really be looking to notice. If you go back and look at Zunino’s better highlights, there were times when he was a little open and got a stride into the ball. But there were times when he lifted up his toe and put it down and kind of lunged at pitches.

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“To me, I just want to simplify everything,” Zunino said. “I want to stand up tall. I want to see the ball a little bit better. I wasn’t striding as much. And I want to get my foot down a little quicker to recognize pitches.”

Zunino did some thinking about his season, what he saw, what he learned that pitchers were throwing to him to get him out and about the type of hitter he wants to become.

“It just comes down to committing and trusting yourself to hit the ball to right field,” he said. “Obviously, you want to get up there and show you can hit early. But it’s one of those things where you get a little bit anxious and you aren’t trusting yourself to go to right field, you start attacking the ball instead of letting it come to you. Last year was just a rushed batting approach for me. I didn’t stay within myself and I tried to do too much.”

These changes will help him do that.

“I’m more comfortable, I see the ball better,” he said. “It helps me stay behind the baseball. You don’t want to get all the way on your front side. I was getting a little wide (stance) last year and drifting to my front side that wouldn’t allow me to hit the ball to right field.”

While Zunino made some changes on his own, hitting coach Howard Johnson and manager Lloyd McClendon – a former hitting coach – were tweaking some of those changes.

“We are just trying to get him in a strong launch position where it’s consistent and explosive so he can drive the ball to all fields,” McClendon said. “He wasn’t getting to that strong launch position and at times he’d susceptible to breaking balls. I think when he makes this adjustment, he should be well-rounded.”

Zunino has liked working with Johnson, who he worked with early in Tacoma last season.

“It’s constant communication,” Zunino said. “He wants to work with you where you are comfortable. He does a good job of communicating the basics through anybody’s stance.”

Elsewhere …

  • Nick Franklin arrived in camp today. The only players who haven’t arrived are Robinson Cano, Carlos Triunfel and Abraham Almonte. Cano could get in tonight and will be here tomorrow for report day.
  • Justin Smoak said that the contract he signed with an option for 2015 will be good for both sides.
  • Music is being played during all workouts. While Lloyd McClendon went to a Seahawks practice a few weeks ago, the music idea is something he copied from Detroit. The Tigers had music going during spring workouts.
  • Fernando Rodney will throw is first bullpen today.

Bullpens sessions for today

1st group

  • Roenias Elias
  • Charlie Furbush
  • Bobby LaFromboise
  • James Paxton
  • Fernando Rodney
  • Randy Wolf

2nd group

  • Jonathan Arias
  • Danny Farquhar
  • Brandon Maurer
  • Zach Miner
  • Hector Noesi
  • Mark Rogers

3rd group

  • Logan Bawcom
  • Steven Kohlscheen
  • Carson Smith

 

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