Reese is hitting lefties well this year
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees left fielder Kevin Reese has had a tough 2007 season to date. Batting only .214 after 51 games, Reese, an eight-year veteran, is currently well below his .283 performance last season in Columbus that eventually earned him a promotion to the major leagues and has been making some adjustments to get out of his slump.
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“I made adjustments to my swing,” Kevin Reese stated this week. “I’m just trying to get in a good position and get the bat on the ball a little early and hopefully that keeps me from hitting some bad pitches.”
Hitting coach Butch Wynegar has been the man who has worked with Reese exclusively throughout the year and has tried several different techniques to help Reese get out of his so-called “funk”.
“I just thought earlier in the year he was getting a little wide with his feet, which was locking up his lower half,” Wynegar said. “So, he moved his feet back a little bit to give himself more freedom down below."
Another thing Wynegar has been working with Reese on is the use of his hands in his at-bats.
“When he is off-track, he can’t use his hands,” Wynegar said. “That’s his main asset. So, we’re trying to make him be slower and more deliberate with his lower back, so his hands can get out in front and he can attack the ball.”
One thing that Reese has conceded is that he has had a bit of bad luck throughout the course of the season.
“I’ve been hitting the ball farther and having better at-bats lately,” Reese said. “I just need some balls to fall.”
Yankees manager Dave Miley reiterated this point.
“He’s been swinging the bat well, but he just hasn’t had that much luck,” said his hitting coach.
But, despite his sub-par batting average, one thing Reese has done well this season has hit well against left-handed pitchers. Through Sunday, Reese is batting .317 against lefties in 41 at-bats. This stat has even surprised Reese.
“It’s good to know that’s still there [stat against lefties],” Reese joked.
“The only thing I know from experience is that when hitters hit lefties, they don’t let there front side go,” hitting coach Butch Wynegar elaborated. “So, they keep it [the front side] tucked in a little longer. I just wish they would do the same thing against righties.”
Despite the poor luck at the plate, Reese and his coaches have remained confident in his abilities.
“I think it’s starting to come around,” Reese said. “Having quality at-bats and getting good wood on the ball is the most important thing. Once I start doing that, I’ll start coming around.”
“Kevin, for me, is a professional hitter,” Wynegar said. “He’s got the experience, he’s got the track record. We’ve just been trying to work on one or two little things so that he can become a better hitter”.
All the adjustments and hard work looks to maybe start paying off for Reese. After hitting just .169 in April, the left fielder hit 81 points higher in May, chipping in with an even .250 average last month.
Reese had his first three-hit game of the season on May 27th - going 3-4 along with a two-run RBI single that sparked an 8-5 Scranton-Wilkes/Barre win over Indianapolis - and had his season-long six-game hit streak snapped on Wednesday.
After the win, Miley talked about the performance Reese had in the game and just how he felt about him.
“He’s a very important part of our team” Miley said. “You just knew he was eventually going to get hot."
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