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Without Overthinking, Torii Hunter Rediscovering Groove at Right Time for Detroit Tigers’ Offense

July 4th, 2014 at 1:23 PM
By Max DeMara

Much like a shadow, a baseball swing is a complex, ever-changing entity. it can be both long and short, appear and disappear on any given day, be peaceful and comfortable or downright frustrating to fight at times.

But, the one thing that's certain? A shadow never truly leaves, and neither does a swing. Torii Hunter knows that, which is the only thing which can truly explain how his batting average can rise from the depths of a desperate.249 to a much enhanced .260 in just a matter of days.

Hunter had another banner day at the plate on Thursday night, pounding a home run and a single which netted him two RBI's. Wednesday, Hunter's big three hit, three RBI day powered a similar blowout win. How does a man go from the pits of frustration to playing a leading offensive role in wins?

Recovering from a injury helps, but according to Brad Ausmus, so does sticking to fundamentals. "I think it's a matter of him not changing, not tinkering, just because he was making outs, understanding that his swing was good, and it wasn't his swing that was the problem, it's just that there was nine defenders out there," he said. Sometimes, when a swing goes, there will be a tendency to over-analyze, even if balls are hit right at the opposition. In most cases, though, a hitter will start to suffer paralysis from such analysis.

Ausmus saw promise in Hunter against the Rangers before the struggles were over. "He's been hitting the ball hard since he came off the hamstring injury in Arlington," he said. "I think it's mainly that he's finding some holes." Hunter's swings over the last two days have been vintage, Thursday night particularly, when he went into the top of the zone punching a ball into right center field for an RBI single with the familiar quick bat flip out of the box.

"He stayed the course and I think now you're seeing some of the balls find grass to land on," Ausmus said. As a veteran perhaps in the twilight of his career, it would have been easy for Hunter to panic and try too hard. Fortunately, both he and Ausmus are smarter than to allow that to happen, and knew with some rest and time, the line drives would either begin to drop or carry over the fence.

Hunter's streakiness has been a problem for Detroit at times, but the issue has been mitigated thanks to the contributions of J.D. Martinez. If the elder-statesman is able to keep the consistent run producing going and hit closer to .280, the Tigers' lineup will get healthier in a hurry, and blowouts like Wednesday and Thursday could become commonplace.

Don't be surprised to see more valleys for the aging version of Hunter—baseball is, of course, a game of rapid changes—but don't be shocked to see some of the clutch moments hang around in bunches, either.

Like a shadow, the baseball swing is all-knowing, and betting on that to change from someone who's been so good for so long is risky business.

Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him.

Tags: Baseball, Brad Ausmus, Detroit, Detroit Tigers, MLB, Torii Hunter

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