Tucson Padres: Tekotte looking for old swing

2012-08-16T00:00:00Z Tucson Padres: Tekotte looking for old swingDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 16, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Blake Tekotte knows there are unwritten rules in baseball.

He became familiar with one this season: When a minor-league player is called up to the big leagues and is told by the major-league coaching staff to change his swing, the player better do it.

"I'm not in a position right now in my career where I'm going to fight it or say, 'No, I won't change,'" Tekotte said.

So when the 25-year-old outfielder was called up by San Diego for the second time this season in late May, he did what the coaches told him.

The staff wanted him to do a lot different. They changed where he stood in the batter's box and the way he held the bat. The coaches wanted him to flick his wrists more and wind up less.

Tekotte went against what he knew and did what the coaches told him. The stance he grew up with and used for his first few years in minor-league baseball was out the door.

He went 2 for 12 in his short stay in the majors and then was sent back to Tucson to keep working on the new swing.

It never caught on.

Tekotte's struggles carried over to Triple-A. Before his promotion and the swing change, he was batting .283 with four home runs.

Since his demotion in May, Tekotte, a left-handed hitter, has seen his average dip to .246 - where it stands now. He hasn't hit a home run since June 13 and isn't in the everyday starting lineup as he was at the beginning of the season.

He's working with hitting coach Bob Skube on going back to his old swing, but it's been a struggle after so many repetitions with the new one.

"It's tough because you do all this stuff in the minor leagues, and then you go up and they try to change you against the best pitchers in the world," Tekotte said. "Everyone was trying to help, but sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It's nothing personal against anyone trying to get me to change, but it's your career. You have to do what works for you."

On top of the swing change, Tekotte was also on the disabled list in July with a pulled hamstring. He's healthy now but appears to have become a platoon player, meaning he starts only against right-handers and select lefties. He was out of the starting lineup Wednesday for Tucson's 4-0 loss to Iowa at Kino Stadium because the Cubs started left-hander Chris Rusin. Tekotte is hitting .203 against lefties this year.

He entered the game in a double-switch in the eighth inning and went 0 for 1.

"He's been working very hard to get back to the level he was at earlier," Tucson manager Terry Kennedy said. "He and Bob have been working on things, and he's doing what's asked of him. I don't want to expose him to lefties all the time right now, so we'll ease him back in there."

Tekotte is on San Diego's 40-man roster, and active rosters in the big leagues expand from 25 on Sept. 1. The former University of Miami standout was on the 40-man last year, too, and wasn't called up in the season's final month.

He's put the idea of a promotion out of his head and is just trying to get his swing back.

"This has been my hardest year in the minor leagues, especially number wise," Tekotte said. "Everyone goes through struggles. It just matters how you bounce back and how you finish."

Today

• What: Iowa at Tucson Padres

• Where: Kino Stadium

• When: 7:05 p.m.

• Radio: 1600-AM

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