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New Yankees hitting coach Jeff Pentland believes in individualized approach

??Los Angeles Dodgers hitting coach Jeff Pentland talks

??Los Angeles Dodgers hitting coach Jeff Pentland talks with Cleveland Indians special advisor Mike Hargrove before a spring training game Tuesday, March 1, 2011, in Goodyear, Ariz. Photo Credit: AP / Mark Duncan

Jeff Pentland has been doing this coaching thing a long time -- about 40 years now -- and even with all the pressing concerns surrounding the Yankees' offense, he knows one thing has to happen first if this new relationship is going to work out.

"It's my job to earn their trust and develop them in what they need," said the Yankees' new hitting coach in a conference call with reporters on Thursday. "I think it's important to meld with them and understand them . . . I work off the individual. I don't have a general philosophy."

So no, Pentland didn't get into many specifics on what he's going to do differently come spring training, but he did say the players can expect a very individualized approach. They can expect a phone call soon, too, he said.

"I have a great passion for it," said Pentland, who has been a major-league coach for 17 years. "I have a very experienced second man in Alan Cockrell and there's nothing probably that I haven't dealt with."

Cockrell was hired as Pentland's assistant after eight-year hitting coach Kevin Long was fired. The two-headed approach is useful, Pentland said, because the game has gotten much more complicated thanks to advanced statistics.

"You have to weed out [some of] the information and give the players a simple approach," he said. "Most of the great athletes, they don't think a lot . . . The sooner you pick up the ball, the better chance of recognizing what the pitch is and where it is, and if your mind is cluttered, you're going to lose some of that."

Pentland touched upon a few keys for the 2015 season, and a few things he's looking forward to experiencing. Having veterans such as Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira healthy is important, he noted, and he's looking forward to working with the likes of Didi Gregorius and . . . Alex Rodriguez.

"He's been a tremendous talent over the years," he said of A-Rod. "I'm looking forward to being around him . . . I hope he has a successful season, and I'll be there for him."

And on Gregorius, who was acquired from the Diamondbacks in December: "He's an incredibly athletic player, he's got a huge future and I'm very excited that he's a Yankee . . . The only problem with younger players, you've got to be more patient [with them]."

In all, though, "the player has to buy in," Pentland said, specifically referencing players possibly adjusting their swings to compensate for a defensive shift. "You can't completely change players, but you can certainly talk and work with [them]."


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