Although Chicago Cubs hitters were a disappointing group in 2010, they seem more at ease with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo this season.
"He makes it so simple," Tyler Colvin said. "You never hear from him, ‘Hey, I want to change this,' or, ‘Your stance is off.' It's usually just a simple message, like ‘You're a little a late or a little early with your swing.'
"It's little things like that. And then you say, ‘Hey, you're right, that's all it was.' Nothing too mechanical, just timing."
The approach has worked so far in the spring, although it's a small sample size based on a handful of games. Here are some averages: Colvin .313; Starlin Castro .474; Alfonso Soriano .389; Marlon Byrd .600; Aramis Ramirez .33.
Although Jaramillo does have a five-step technique, positive reinforcement seems to be his greatest attribute.
"He always says, ‘Hey, if your hands are back and you're ready to go, and you have a good chance to hit the ball, then hit it hard,'" Colvin said. "He really makes you feel good about what you do out there."
In 2010, the story around Cubs camp seemed to be that early season slumps by Ramirez and Derrek Lee were tied into neither veteran working with Jaramillo.
"I always worked with Rudy," Ramirez said. "I don't know who came up with the idea that I didn't. But my work is different from some of the other guys who work with Rudy as well. Guys like Marlon and Soriano hit every day in the cage. I hit maybe 3-4 times a week in the cage in early spring training.
"I just go there to fine tune things. But Rudy is there for me all the time. We work on a lot of things, but he's not the type to change you. He helps you stay within your own swing."
Lee never was a Jaramillo disciple during 2010. However, that wasn't necessarily a reflection on Jaramillo. Throughout Lee's career he was basically his own hitting coach.
"Rudy doesn't want to change the way you hit or the way you think," Ramirez said. "He helps you be the best within the framework of yourself. He's away of every person's approach and works with them on what they can do."
First-year manager Mike Quade tries to absorb Jaramillo's hitting philosophy on a daily basis. Quade believes Jaramillo is in a better position to help the hitters in his second season.
"I think it's a natural progression," Quade said. "If it wasn't that way, you'd probably have a problem. If people reject what you're teaching, or don't buy in the second year, then you do have a problem.
"Rudy has a history of [positive] response. So I didn't expect anything different here this spring. I do see things that I bring up to him where I get great information back. I get educated every day around here. All of the feedback is good."