February 21st, 2007

That Sheffield swing

Just about every player’s swing is distinctive, but there are a few around baseball that you really remember, that stand out in your mind both for how they look and how they produce. Gary Sheffield has one of those swings. Really, between that bat waggle and the sudden speed with which he turns on pitches, he might have THE distinctive swing.

Sheffield’s batting practice wasn’t one of those home-run derby performances you would think, because there’s a purpose to his hitting work. But to watch his swing up close on a practice field is a sight. You know his swing isn’t going to be the same on the first day of full-squad workouts as it will be come the regular season, but you can still see what’s different about it, and you can tell his wrist injury from last year hasn’t changed that. And when he unleashes that swing on a ball and pulls it over the left-field fence, you know why he can send a ball that far.

Other items from Wednesday:

  • Leyland enjoyed watching Sheffield, but he was raving about Curtis Granderson, who was spraying the field with line drives. Granderson said he’s trying to eliminate unnecessary motion from his swing and gain some quickness. He’s still a little closer to the plate, but it’s not as big of an emphasis as before.
  • Wonder why we keep saying Sean Casey is such a good character guy? He saw Marcus Thames trying to take ground balls at first base with a stiff new glove, and he gave Thames one of his backup gloves so that he’d have something worn-in to use.
  • Every player has reported to camp. The only notable absence Wednesday was Tony Giarratano, who Leyland said was having his shoulder checked out.