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New Phillies hitting coach Kevin Long discusses plan to get Alec Bohm back on track


New hitting coach Kevin Long is already working to improve the Phillies’ underperforming offense. In his introductory Zoom press conference on Oct. 13, Long said he planned to travel to Clearwater, Florida and get to know the players who are training in the area.

Alec Bohm already began working with new Phillies hitting coach Kevin Long. (Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Alec Bohm, who is looking to bounce back after a rough 2021 season, is one of those players. After slashing .338/.400/.481 in 160 at-bats in the 60-game season, Bohm took a step back in 2021. In the first two months of the season, Bohm had a .551 OPS, but he improved in June and July. His batting average in those months shot up to .316, but after another brief slump and a continuation of his season-long struggles at third base, Bohm was sent down to Triple A in August.

Long isn’t panicking about Bohm. During a recent appearance on Kevin Frandsen’s Pine Tar for Breakfast, Long noted that the league-wide batting average was .244 and Bohm sat at .247 in a down year in 2021.

“We’re acting like it’s the end of the world,” Long said. “I hope Alec doesn’t do anything crazy and I hope he understands where he’s at.”

Long went on that planned trip to Clearwater and outlined some adjustments Bohm can make to get better.

“His strength is a lot like [Juan Soto’s], it’s middle, middle the other way,” Long said. “He’s gotta stay there. Even if he gets beat by a fastball or he doesn’t catch up to a couple fastballs, he’s gotta stay with his strengths. I just recently got done hitting with him. We’re going to get him a little bit closer to the hitting position. His timing is going to be a little bit more efficient and his move to the ball is going to be shorter and quicker. That should take care of that.”

In his introductory press conference, Long said he likes swings that are tight, connected and “on time for the fastball.” Bohm slugged .256 against four-seam fastballs in 2021, so hitting on time should help Bohm’s cause.

Considering that Bohm showed improvement in the middle of the season and can hit the ball hard on a consistent basis, Long probably doesn’t need to rebuild the former first round pick’s swing from the ground up. In fact, completely reworking his swing would probably be detrimental. Bohm admitted that getting caught up in mechanics partly led to his struggles in 2021.

“I just kind of went down there and stopped thinking so much really,” Bohm said in Atlanta about his August demotion during the final week of the season. “And stopped trying to be so robotic. I feel like I got caught up in mechanics. That’s kind of the easiest thing to run to when you don’t see the numbers that you want. ‘Well, what’s wrong?’ There’s nothing really wrong. I was just getting pretty robotic and thinking a lot. … I wasn’t keeping it as simple as I could have. I went down there and simplified things, relaxed in the box.”

Long noted that players are usually more prepared for the big leagues after their second call-up. Bohm put together a few good at-bats during his stint with the team in the final week of the season, but he’ll be judged on how he bounces back from his sophomore season next year.

“I think this kid’s special. I think he’s going to be heard from a lot,” Long said. “And I think Philly fans are going to really really like what this guy means to their future.”

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