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Boesch sits, working on tracking pitches

Boesch sits, working on tracking pitches

NEW YORK -- Brennan Boesch was out of the Tigers' lineup Wednesday night, and he was expected to be out of the lineup for Thursday afternoon's series finale. But that doesn't mean manager Jim Leyland has lost faith in his rookie slugger.

Leyland still sees Boesch as a big piece of the Tigers' present and especially the future. Right now, though, they need Boesch to see pitches better and react to them much better.

"I think he's lost his concentration a little bit," Leyland said Wednesday. "I spoke to him [Tuesday]. I didn't touch him up, but I just made a couple points: If you're swinging at 97 [mph] out of the strike zone, I can accept that. But if you're swinging at 89, 88 out of the strike zone, that's not totally acceptable. That just means you're just frustrated, and your concentration's probably not where it needs to be."

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To that effect, Boesch has been working with hitting coach Lloyd McClendon on a drill that Leyland said he saw Mark McGwire do during his playing days. McClendon will throw him pitches, but Boesch won't swing. The idea, Leyland said, is for Boesch to track the ball to get an idea of where the strike zone is.

Another thing Boesch is getting out of it is to slow down his lower body and not jump at pitches to the point where he gets out of whack with his swing.

"You're ready to hit every pitch," Boesch said, "but when you're taking the ones that are balls with a smooth, nice-and-easy take, for me that's a pretty darn good indication of where my relaxation at the plate is at. If I feel like I'm trying to make up for maybe lost RBIs from the day before or whatever, I'll be a little hard on the front side and rushing.

"What it basically allows you to do is take that rushed lower half out of it. It's really hard to see the ball if you're rushing with your lower half. The smoother I am with my legs, the better I see the ball, the better swing I put on the ball, and everything takes care of itself."

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