It isn't quite "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” territory, but a new leg kick might skyrocket Jason Botts back to the major leagues for good.
Botts, the RedHawks' top power hitter the past two years, decided he needed to make some changes in his batting style after not making the Texas Rangers' opening-day roster.
"I wanted to change the timing and rhythm of how I hit,” Botts said.
So, the switch-hitting left fielder went from swinging flat-footed to lifting his front leg before taking his hacks. Instant success? Not at all. In April, Botts batted only .200 and had just one home run and 14 RBIs in 24 games.
Botts didn't add the leg kick until the final three days of spring training. So as a hitter he was, in effect, beginning spring training again when the regular season started.
"He had a hard time figuring it out at first,” RedHawks manager Bobby Jones said. "He was late on a lot of balls. He couldn't get his (front) foot down on time and the ball was by him, or he was swinging too early. And then finally he just figured it out. He got his timing down and he's a completely different hitter now.”
Botts paid a price in April. Pacific Coast League pitchers have been paying the price against him in May and June.
Since the slow first month, Botts has hit .382 in May and June, with 31 RBIs in 36 games.
"I think the leg kick is going to help me have a shorter, quicker swing,” Botts said, "and I'll be able to cover more areas of the hitting zone. It's a sacrifice I was willing to make early, and now I've gotten through it and I'm starting to see some results.”
After struggling to reach baseball's Mendoza Line (.