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Athletics | Hiroyuki Nakajima changed swing

Oakland Athletics SS Hiroyuki Nakajima changed out his delayed leg kick at the plate for a small lift in his front foot in spring training this year, which robbed him of the torque on his swing and made him consistently late on pitches. "The emphasis was more on learning and observing the pitches, and that caused me to be more uncertain rather than swinging the bat freely," Nakajima said. He's now returning to the swing mechanics he used in Japan, and he went 18-for-46 during a season-high 10-game hitting streak at Triple-A Sacramento after making the change. The minor league coaching staff believes Nakajima is ready to face major league pitching now.

Nakajima hasn't proven he can play shortstop at the major league level, though, and the team already has SS Jed Lowrie playing there. However, Nakajima has played more third base than shortstop at Sacramento lately. It appears the A's weren't thrilled with his play at second base in late May. He developed a bad habit of letting the ball come to him on defense because of being used to playing on AstroTurf in Japan. With agility workouts and drills designed to improve his first step, Nakajima feels ready to return to the big leagues.

Fantasy Tip: There is no indication that Nakajima will be recalled anytime soon with Lowrie and Josh Donaldson holding down the left side of the infield. If Nakajima does come up, he'll likely serve in a utility role, limiting his fantasy value to very deep AL leagues.

2013-06-25 13:31:53 | Source: - Jeff Kirshman

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