Change of focus has Choo in groove at plate

Change of focus has Choo in groove at plate

Change of focus has Choo in groove at plate
CLEVELAND -- Shin-Soo Choo believes a simple switch in his mindset has helped him find a comfort zone with his swing. The Indians right fielder is no longer trying to guide pitches to particular parts of the field.

"The first two months of the season," Choo said, "even before swinging, I was already thinking about where the ball would go. Now, I'm more focused on making contact. I'm not worried about where I'm hitting it. I'm seeing the ball and focusing on the contact area. Then, wherever the ball goes, it goes."

Entering Tuesday's game with Cincinnati, Choo had hit .287 with six home runs and 15 RBIs in his last 43 games, dating back to May 4. During that span, the outfielder -- now entrenched as the club's leadoff man -- has raised his season average to .265 from .209.

Three of Choo's home runs in that stretch have come in his last five games.

"We know that the power is there," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "It was about the consistency of his swing and being patient. It's starting to come. I know that at the end of the year his numbers are going to be there. He's pretty comfortable right now in a good spot. He gradually has gotten better since the beginning of the season."

Beyond his approach, Choo said a key has been improved production against fastballs.

"I'm a very good fastball hitter," Choo said. "But in April and May, I had so many missed fastballs -- even at like 92-94 mph. I couldn't hit it. Foul balls. Swings and misses. That was a problem. There was something wrong with my timing.

"So I'm starting early and not thinking about where I'm hitting the ball, just focusing on the hitting area."

Choo believes hitting leadoff has helped him find his rhythm, because it has offered the chance to have more plate appearances each game.

"I don't mind any spot in the lineup," Choo said. "The only reason I like the leadoff spot, or being in the top of the order, is you get extra at-bats. That's why I like the top of the order. I think that's helped."