Diaz Focusing on Switch Hitting and Defense

Lansing Lugnuts short stop Jonathan Diaz has recently taken on a new role on his team as a switch hitter. The Miami, Florida native did some switch hitting in college and in Auburn, but had little success and so gave it up, until now.

"During my junior year of high school fractured my right finger, it hurt to hit from the right side, so I just decided to hit from the left and it work out that year," said twenty-two-year-old Diaz.

However, during his senior year Diaz hit .160, so he decided to focus on one side of the plate.

"Later on I started phasing it in again. I asked to try it out again, just to add another aspect to my game and they gave me the go," said Diaz.

"He came to us this year and asked if he could do it again in hopes of helping his team out," said Lansing hitting Coach Charles Poe. "It helps him to get out of the box faster and I think it has helped him out."

Diaz is currently hitting .233 from both sides of the plate. However, he's batting .356 in 87 at bats against left-handed pitching.

"From last year I've improved my strike out to walk ratio," said Diaz. "But, I need to work on staying away from the high pitches."

Poe and Diaz clearly have a good working relationship because they are in agreement of Diaz's strengths and weaknesses as a hitter.

"From the left side he needs work on sticking to ball in the zone," said Poe. "He has a tendency to swing at balls above his hands and then he hits a lot of pop ups. When he stays in the zone he makes good contact."

Defensively Diaz shows great range and athleticism from the middle infield. However, he does lead the team in errors with 24.

"I'm always looking to improve. My main thing is I always want to make the play regardless of how hard it is, so sometimes it's those balls I throw away. So I really want to work on getting my throws on line all the time."

Lansing manager Gary Cathcart said most of Diaz's errors have been on routine plays, and it's those plays that get you moved up.

"He's so athletic that he can make the toughest plays look easy," said Cathcart. "If you ask him, most of his errors are on plays he would tell you he should make. From a manager's stand point, I'd rather have a short stop who makes all the routine plays, and if you want to throw a couple of great ones here and there that's great. And he is capable of doing that."

Diaz's main goal for the rest of the season is to help his team into the playoffs by backing up his pitchers and giving them run support.

"He still has some things he needs to work on, but he does a good job for us," said Poe. "Just look at the other night, he had a three run double that really broke the game open for us." (Lansing won that game vs Peoria Cheifs 12-4)

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