So why do some scouts believe Ichiro is one possible answer to the Yankees’ hunt for more home runs? The answer can be found during batting practice, when the Japanese star puts on a power display that rivals any of his teammates’ — and that includes Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson.
“[Ichiro] can hit the ball farther than any of them,” is what one bird dog said this week. Of course, there’s a huge gulf between those make-believe blasts at 5 p.m. and what the Yankees actually need from Ichiro once the game begins. But the point nevertheless has traction: What if Ichiro really did change his approach to take advantage of the Stadium’s short right-field porch over a full season?
Actually, there’s statistical proof that suggests Ichiro morphed last summer, nearly quadrupling his home run ratio after being traded to New York. Ichiro managed one HR every 100 at-bats with the Mariners, but, upon becoming a Yankee, hit one every 26 in the Stadium.
... If Ichiro has the power to go 400-plus feet in batting practice, and the in-game IQ to predict a pitcher’s sequence, why not lean on him for a few more home runs, especially in the Bronx this year?
He pondered the question, listening intently as the interpreter navigated from English to Japanese. Ichiro finally nodded.
“I’ll hit home runs,” he said. “If it’s OK for me to hit .200.”
And then he smiled. Broadly.
Posted: February 27, 2013 at 12:27 PM | 51 comment(s)
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