Off to a slow start as he tries to bounce back from the worst season of his career, Derek Jeter has already ditched the “new swing” that made so many headlines throughout spring training.
Hitting coach Kevin Long, who worked with Jeter to revamp his approach at the plate, told Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com that the 37-year-old shortstop has gone back to “more of what he’s done for his whole career” after initially attempting to decrease his stride.
Long tried to downplay the significance of the switch by saying that Jeter “has had a very successful career and it has worked out well for him.”
However, if the hitting coach truly believed sticking with the old approach was better for Jeter right now, at age 37, he wouldn’t have worked to change things in the first place. Jeter has gone 7-for-34 (.206) with zero homers and five strikeouts through nine games to produce a .535 OPS that is nearly 200 points lower than last year’s career-worst mark, but 34 at-bats are hardly enough to draw any sort of meaningful conclusions no matter how high profile the player. Last year he got off to a great start, hitting .330 in April, only to hit .260 after May 1.
On Monday, Cubs catcher Willson Contreras showed he was very confident heading into the 2018 season, saying, “I know that I’m going to be better than [Yadier Molina and Buster Posey].” Contreras explained that his goal is to become “the best catcher in the game for a long time — like it was with Yadier Molina, like it is with Buster Posey.”
Apparently, Contreras ruffled Molina’s feathers as the Cardinals’ veteran backstop took to Instagram to respond. Posting a picture of himself with Buster Posey and Salvador Perez, Molina wrote, “Respeten los rangos NOVATOS!! aqui con los q si han probao que son los duros!!” That loosely translates to “respect the ranks,” referring to Contreras as a novice.
Molina is no stranger to using Instagram to air his grievances. He apparently used the social media app to take a swipe or two at manager Mike Matheny last year.
Of course, Molina seems to be misreading the intent of Contreras. Contreras seems to think highly of Molina, having referred to him as being one of the best catchers in the game — even if it was in the past tense. Molina should know, being someone who also competes at the highest level, that having confidence is an important part of the recipe for success. Perhaps this will make for some interesting games during the season, breathing new life into the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry.