St. Petersburg, Florida - At Tropicana Field Wednesday morning, Derek Shelton takes in all of B.J. Upton's batting stance.
"Get ready to work out toward me. Good. That's what we're looking for. That's perfect."
Just three weeks until spring training...
"Good right there."
And Shelton, the Rays' new (and youngest ever, at 39) hitting coach, still needs plenty of prep time.
"I spent a ton of time watching video and a ton of time talking to guys," says Shelton. "What they do? How they do it? It's different for them just like it's different for me."
"I've only worked with him a month, and already I've seen a lot of change for the good," says outfielder Matt Joyce.
"Ah, that's a knock right there."
Whether it's the promising youngster or a big leaguer, Shelton's emphasis as the new hitting coach needs to stretch throughout the entire Rays organization.
"We're working on basic stuff," says Shelton. "We're working on trying to stay in the middle of the field. Just making sure we're ready to hit."
"He's been unbelievable, and he's here to help," says B.J. Upton. "I think that's something that he emphasized to me the first week we were together, and it's kind of been rolling ever since."
For Derek, taking the Rays' job equals an excellent homecoming. He's had his off-season house in the Tampa Bay area for the last 12 years, since his playing days with the Yankees. But the highlight, it's really coming out and throwing BP to these guys, but it's to his nine-year-old kid.
"I was dominating some nine-year-olds BP two nights ago," he laughs. "I think with the nine-year-olds, you're more just trying to hit the bats. I have a nine-year-old son, so I got roped into throwing BP the other day."
As for his day job, Derek is energized to work with the Rays lineup.
"There's a dynamic to this club that I think it is very unique and very special, especially in the American League. It's a job that was exciting to me."
"Very good. Very good. Good first day."
Travis Bell, 10 Connects