PORT ST. LUCIE — Rebuilding Grandy. The sequel.
Curtis Granderson is deep into renovating his swing with old friend and new Mets hitting coach Kevin Long. Progress is being made.
The Mets are betting they can once again find the explosive hitter similar to the one the Yankees had during the 2011 and 2012 seasons when Granderson crushed 84 home runs, drove in 225 runs and scored 238 runs.
Granderson turns 34 in 11 days, the clock is ticking on his career, but he is running around the Mets spring training complex like a rookie, thrilled to be reunited with Long, the former Yankees hitting coach.
“Grandy just looks more dangerous,’’ J.P. Ricciardi, special assistant to general manager Sandy Alderson, said on Wednesday.
That is the plan.
“I’m excited with the way he is swinging the bat,’’ Long said. “He didn’t swing and miss in [Tuesday’s intrasquad] game. He feels good and I feel good where he is at.’’
“This is actually very similar to the first time we started making adjustments,’’ Granderson said. “The idea is we want to get to the strongest position as consistently as possible with as little movement as possible.’’
The more movement you have, the more things can go wrong.
What is the biggest adjustment Long is making?
“We’re trying to preset his hands,’’ Long said. “Get him in the perfect hitting position so the hands are ready to fire and he can go as efficiently as possible from point A to point B. We have a blueprint to go off of this time, before we were kind of piecing it together.
“There is not as much movement in his body, there is not as much sway in his swing.’’
There is work on the lower half too where Granderson is firing the hips and pushing his back leg into the ground.
The body and swing are more compact.
“It’s still a work in progress,’’ Granderson said of the drills that began this winter.
First came balance work, then swings off the tee, then dry swings to find the contact or collision point. Next came soft toss, batting practice, live batting practice and now games.
“Each thing is step-by-step,’’ Granderson said. “Now I know what I’m looking for, the big thing is where my hands are.’’
Curtis GrandersonPhoto: Anthony J. Causi
Unlike when Granderson first came to the Yankees in 2010, this is a renovation.
Noted Long: “The thing I feel best about is the position he is in now when the ball is on the way to the plate. He’s in a very strong, dangerous position. It looks comfortable.
“It looks like I remember it.’’
That is what the Mets are looking for in Granderson, who signed a four-year, $60 million contract and hit only .227 last season with 20 home runs and 66 RBIs. The numbers must improve or else Granderson becomes a free-agent outfielder bust along the lines of Jason Bay.
That is why the Long-Granderson reunion is so vital.
“The comfort of knowing someone who knows their swing is so important,’’ Ricciardi said. “They can always go back to that guy and he can get them to the foundation. That’s really important. You can see that comfort level and it’s great for us, I think it’s going to reap a lot of benefits.
“When a player is struggling they have to have someone that they feel confident with so that when they say something, they get it immediately. Sometimes, working with someone new, you just don’t have that. There are certain buzz words that they hit on and certain catch phrases that get him back.’’
There is the baseball and human connection.
“Kevin is a friend outside the game,’’ Granderson said. “He is going to be confident, he is going to be your biggest supporter and he is going to work with you and what you have. He is not going to make me hit like David Wright.’’
This is not cookie-cutter coaching.
If the lefty can hit like the 2011-12 version of Curtis Granderson, the trip from point A to point B will have been a success.
The Mets need this sequel to be a monster hit.