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Avila seeing his opposite-field power return

Avila seeing his opposite-field power return

Avila seeing his opposite-field power return

TORONTO -- Turns out Alex Avila was serious when he said his work with hitting coach Leon Durham last week wasn't about any major overhaul. By the looks of his first two games back from the disabled list, his biggest step as a hitter was getting back to his old ways.

His two hits in as many nights were both smacked hard. But unlike much of his hitting this year, they were hits to the opposite field. He followed Tuesday's double off the left-field fence with a three-run homer to left-center on Wednesday.

"That's my natural swing," Avila said. "I mean, a lot of power is to the opposite field. I mean, in my career, at least half my home runs are to the opposite field. One thing I was definitely trying to do is get back to that and get back to what made me successful."

It's not quite that large of a percentage, but it's not far off. Fourteen of Avila's 46 career Major League home runs have gone out to left field, according to Fangraphs, compared with nine homers to center and 23 to right.

That's the way he hit two years ago, when he won the American League All-Star nod behind the plate on his way to a .295 average, .895 OPS, 33 doubles, 19 home runs and 82 RBIs. It's not the way he had been hitting this year.

According to hit charts from STATS, Avila hit more balls to left than to the other parts of the outfield two years ago, batting .346 to that area. He kept it up last year even during his offensive drop, hitting to that area 22 percent of the time and batting .368 when he did. His chart has been much more even this year around the outfield when he's gone there, but his groundball rate picked up at the expense of his power.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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