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In the past year, Wells has made two key fixes, one mechanical and one physical. He refocused his approach -- ditching the urge to overswing and embracing a compact, measured stroke -- which began before the Yankees acquired him this spring. "He had been working on shortening his swing, backing the ball up [in the zone] and taking the thought of hitting home runs out of his thought process," Long says.
Long has talked with Wells about his stride and moved him a little closer to the plate, for better coverage, but nothing else matters without a mental emphasis on staying short and through the middle. For everything Wells does, that's his key, one he somehow misplaced in Anaheim.
The physical fix is obvious: Wells tore ligaments in his right thumb on May 20 last year, had surgery and missed more than two months. He returned to 120 mostly poor plate appearances. The injury doesn't explain away last season's impatience and lethargy, but Wells, although considered "healthy," is still recovering from that surgery. Long implied that when Wells faces pitchers with heavy fastballs, there remains a survival mechanism alerting him to shorten up and protect the thumb.