According to Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com, Long and the players are not blind to their struggles and he says the guys in the locker room are the only ones who can fix it:
"Obviously offense has been an issue all season," Long said. "These guys understand it, I understand it. We’ve got to turn it around and we’ve got to believe the guys that are in the room, they’re the only guys that can turn it around."
Long has received much of the blame for his team's woes, however he did point out that Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran may be coming out of their respective funks after two hits apiece in the series finale versus the Tampa Bay Rays.
That right there is wishful thinking though, as it's just one game and we've certainly all gotten excited before about these guys getting hits and potentially breaking out of their slumps.
McCann, in particular, changed his approach by removing a toe-tap in his swing and that's something Long has said is making a difference thus far.
Yangervis Solarte has been another Yankee who has been abysmal since a fast start to the season. Long doesn't feel Solarte's struggles come from a change in the way pitchers are going after him, per Matthews' report:
"I don't think they're pitching him any differently," Long said of Solarte. "It's more of what he's doing. When Solarte was swinging the bat well he was very aggressive and he was swinging with authority. Now he’s just a little bit in between and a little bit unsure. I'm sure he's feeling a little pressure. He’s a rookie so someone like that will probably put a little more pressure on himself than a veteran will."
Long's reasoning for Solarte's problems is a logical one. The rookie busted out of the gate in 2014 as one of the hottest hitters in the MLB and that likely put an insane amount of pressure and setup a standard Solarte is having a tough time matching.
Although Long did get into specific players, he does understand that the entire lineup is to blame for next-to-nothing run production in the Bronx:
But Long was quick to say that Solarte should not be singled out, that the entire offense was not performing as expected. "It’s not from lack of effort, it’s not from not wanting to do it, it’s just one of those things where everybody needs to pick it up a little bit," Long said. "That includes the Gardners and the Ellsburys, who have done well all year, as well as those guys that have underperformed. We all need to pick it up."
Clearly Long and the players he coaches are working diligently to fix the non-hitting epidemic, although the issues may be more mental than physical, especially in Solarte's case.
There's no question this lineup is filled with solid hitters who should do better, so any other explanation is tough to back up. The talent level is not matching the Yanks' overall output in 2014.
That may end up costing Long his job if this continues, but he can't be blamed for everything because, after all, he doesn't swing the bat for these guys.
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