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Shin-Soo Choo changed up his swing going into this season with a modified leg kick. Maybe more significant was a return to some of the mental focus he had lost along the way.
”Every pitch Nathan Shepherd Color Rush Jersey , each pitch, is the last pitch of my baseball career … I think that way,” Choo said.
After a slow start to this season, Choo realized he had gotten away from what he refers to as the ”sniper focus” he wants to have every time he goes to the plate for the Texas Rangers.
Choo now has a 38-game on-base streak. It is the longest of his 14-year big league career, and the second-longest this season behind a 40-gamer by Philadelphia’s Odubel Herrera.
”The physical side of it is a byproduct of him making a conscious effort to get back to who he is, what his foundation has been as a hitter, an on-base guy first,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. ”When he’s doing that and he’s seeing pitches, he’s focused in more on driving the ball, that he gets to hit his pitch. He’s really good at it.”
With three singles on Monday night Cheap Ryan Jensen Jersey , including the tiebreaking RBI hit in a 7-4 win over San Diego, Choo has the longest on-base streak for Texas since Otis Nixon’s 44 games in a row in 1995. Julio Franco’s 46-gamer in 1993 is the franchise record.
Choo was hitting .239 after going 0 for 4 with three strikeouts May 12 at Houston, along with a .316 on-base percentage.
Since then, the outfielder and designated hitter has 48 hits and 37 walks in 38 games – reaching base an average of 2.2 times each game during his streak. That has raised his batting average to .285 and increased his on-base percentage 79 points.
”He sticks to his approach more than anything. He doesn’t really care who is on the mound,” said Delino DeShields, the young center fielder whose locker is next to Choo’s. ”He knows himself, he’s done it for a long time. He knows when he’s getting away from that and it’s an easy adjustment for him to make.”
DeShields said Choo keeps things ”really simple” and sticks to his routine.
For Choo, that includes almost always being the first player in the clubhouse – whether before sunrise at spring training or around lunchtime before night games during the season.
Banister remembers showing up at the team’s complex around 5 a.m. one day early during the manager’s first spring with the team in 2015. Choo was already there.
”Next few days we got there at the same time and then one day I got up earlier for some reason and beat him to the ballpark,” Banister said. ”I didn’t beat him to the ballpark the next day.”
Choo, in his fifth season with Texas after playing for Seattle Paul Worrilow Color Rush Jersey , Cleveland and Cincinnati, is also tidy. The two stalls he occupies in the home clubhouse are organized, including the array of batting gloves stacked neatly and organized by color. He knows where everything is because it all has a specific spot – and says it’s the same at his house.
”He’s real particular,” DeShields said. ”He packs his own bag. … He always looks nice. It’s just how he is. He’s a professional. Whatever you define a professional to be, that’s him.”
Choo will turn 36 on July 13, four days before the All-Star Game. He has never been an All-Star before but is a strong candidate to represent the Rangers as a first-timer.
Banister said Choo certainly has played to a level to be considered for the American League squad in Washington next month.
”This is a great teammate. He really is. This is a guy who cares about every player in that locker room. He cares about the game. A lot,” Banister said. ”The respect for the game of baseball, how it’s played, the look of it, the players John Franklin-Myers Color Rush Jersey , the style of play, the way you should play the game.”
Even the simplest of tasks like breathing and eating were painstakingly difficult for Logan Couture heading into the playoffs a year ago.
An errant puck had shattered his face and the injuries hampered Couture during San Jose’s first-round loss to Edmonton. They weren’t fully healed until the summer. The Sharks are counting heavily on a now healthy Couture to anchor a long playoff run this year starting Thursday night in Game 1 of their first-round series at Anaheim.
”It was tough,” Couture said about playing through the injury a year ago. ”It was very difficult. I went from playing to not knowing if I would be playing in the playoffs. The injury, it affected my life more than hockey. It was difficult just waking up and dealing with day to day stuff. But I’m happy, happy to be healthy.”
Couture was hit in the mouth a year ago by a shot from teammate Brent Burns and missed the final seven games of the regular season with two fractures in his face. He came back for the playoffs with plastic and wiring to keep his teeth in place and played all six games, scoring two goals in a Game 4 victory, but he was far from his usual self.
Couture was a main factor in San Jose’s run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016, leading the NHL with 30 points that postseason before the Sharks lost in six games to Pittsburgh. He’s hoping for the same type of spring this year.
”That was probably the most fun I’ve ever had playing hockey,” he said. ”Just a blast to go to the rink every day. That was a special group that we had that year. It’s different each year obviously when personnel changes. I think about that run quite a bit, just how much fun it was. Just hoping to relive it.”
As well as he played during that run Cheap Taron Johnson Jersey , Couture might be at his peak heading into this year’s playoffs after scoring a career-high 34 goals this season, posting 61 points and having the usual responsibility of trying to slow down the opponent’s top scoring line.
That performance helped the Sharks overcome the loss of Patrick Marleau to free agency last summer and Joe Thornton to a knee injury in January and helped Couture win the team’s MVP award, although he has loftier goals still in mind.
”I’ve felt good. The puck’s gone in for me. That’s the big thing. Just capitalized on opportunities. Scoring 34 goals is pretty cool. Definitely to be up in the top 20 in goal scorers in this league, in the best league in the world, is special for sure,” Couture said.
”The season’s not over. Obviously the goal for myself, and as well as our team, is to win it all. It’s tough to say it’s been a successful year until the year’s done.”
Couture will have plenty of responsibility this series to make sure the season doesn’t end too soon.
He’ll be a main part of the top power-play unit, one of the team’s most important penalty killers, tasked with slowing down Ryan Getzlaf’s line and provide offense of his own.
”The one thing about Logan is he has the ability to raise his level in important moments http://www.falconsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-calvin-ridley-jersey , in important times of the year as he’s shown in my time here,” coach Peter DeBoer said. ”I expect the same thing. I think we kind of take it for granted but that’s what he is. He’s a great player and he has that ability.”
NOTES: DeBoer would not rule Thornton out for the series, saying only he wouldn’t play Game 1. … Eric Fehr and Melker Karlsson, who missed time late in the season, worked on the fourth line at practice Tuesday.
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