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Optimistic Jeter says he's finding stroke

New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter smiles during

New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter smiles during a conversation with a teammate during batting practice before the baseball game against the Detroit Tigers. (May 3, 2011) Credit: AP

DETROIT -- Derek Jeter is hitting ground balls more often than he has at any point in his career, but Kevin Long said he isn't worried.

And neither is Jeter who, after hitting three balls hard in a 1-for-4 night, said it's the best he's felt all season at the plate. "I like where I'm at right now," said Jeter, who is hitting .250 with a .310 on-base percentage and .269 slugging percentage.

Jeter said for much of April he was "thinking too much" about the adjustment -- basically eliminating his stride -- he and Long worked on all spring.

Now, he said, his swing is basically a hybrid.

"I went back to some old ways," Jeter said. "One thing you can't do when hitting is you can't think too much. The first few weeks I was thinking too much."

Before the game Long said he wasn't concerned about Jeter's propensity so far this season to pound the ball into the ground.

"It's not necessarily a bad thing, it's just when you hit these ground balls they need to find holes and they need to get through," he said.

Entering Tuesday night, Jeter hit the ball on the ground 72.7 percent of the time, compared with his career 57.3 percent, according to fangraphs.com. His line- drive percentage was just 10.2 percent, compared to his career 20 percent. Jeter lined a single to center in his first at-bat Tuesday and had successive groundouts before lining out to first in his fourth at-bat.

Long said there was concern that Jeter had just two extra-base hits entering Tuesday.

"That comes from using your lower half and hip torque," Long said. "When you look at the numbers you say where's the extra- base hits? That's probably the one part of this whole thing where you say we need to get better there."

 

Extra bases

Joe Girardi said Phil Hughes returned to New York last night and would meet with team physician Christopher Ahmad Wednesday.

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