Sports Outside the Beltway

Arod off to a decent start

by Tyler Kepner -

Alex Rodriguez has hit 476 [now 478] home runs over 14 seasons in the major leagues. Kevin Long, the hitting coach who helped fix the flaws in his swing, hit 17 over eight seasons in the minors. Now Rodriguez, the Yankees’ third baseman, is off to perhaps the hottest start in baseball history.

In the weeks after the Yankees’ swift elimination from the playoffs last October, the first significant change the team made was to promote Long from the minors to be the hitting coach. Rodriguez was not the only problem, but he was one of them.

Don Mattingly, a former most valuable player, was shifted from hitting coach to bench coach. The duty of instructing the Yankees’ hitters fell to Long, 40, who had coached since 1997 but never in the majors.

Rodriguez was one of the first people to call and congratulate Long. Rodriguez had just gone 1 for 14 in the playoffs and was dropped to eighth in the batting order in the final loss, extending a long streak of postseason futility. Boos greeted him regularly at Yankee Stadium.

The season had embarrassed Rodriguez, but he was proud to have withstood it and eager for another chance.

I can’t remember ever seeing anyone dominate over three weeks the way Arod has.

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