"I think Spring Training was great this year," Gumbs said. "I accomplished a lot of things that I needed to accomplish. I set a plan for myself and actually got to have an idea of what I'm going to do when I step in the box. Defensively, I just smoothed out the wrinkles.
"I was working on staying to the middle of the field with my approach. I was working on getting my timing with my hands going. Defensively, I just worked on making every play look simple and that was about it."
Tampa manager Al Pedrique worked with Gumbs during Spring Training as well as this past offseason, not to mention managed him last season in Charleston, and has already noticed his improvements.
"First of all, he was in great shape," Pedrique said. "Offensively, he worked very hard on driving the ball. He is sure-ing up his swing, making more contact and making solid contact.
"He needs to be on base more because with his speed he can steal a lot of bases. And, defensively, he worked very hard on backhand balls, staying down on balls, and also positioning himself. Those are the things he worked very hard on.
"We worked in different areas. Defensively, being in the right spot during cut-offs and relays. We worked on turning a double-play and being able to catch the ball with two hands when he's making the pivot to throw the ball to first [base]. And, we worked on his feet to the shortstop, be able to be solid and give him consistent, good, throws to second base.
Defensively his transition to second base over the years has gone quite smoothly. It was his bat, and more to the point his disappointing .213 average last season, that needed some adjusting.
He batted just .088 through his first eight games with the Tampa Yankees last season before sustaining an injury and hit just .240 in high-A upon his return from the disabled list prior to ultimately being sent down to low-A Charleston.
This season has been a different story, however. He is hitting a robust .325 through his first 20 games and already has 25 hits -- he didn't collect his 25th hit last season until June 3rd.
Gumbs is aware that even though he is off to a strong start, his biggest challenge will be to stay consistent throughout the season.
"Right now, I am just trying to stay consistent," Gumbs said. "That's the biggest improvement I can make -- consistency.
"Yeah, I feel like it's a plus getting off to a strong start, but I'm usually the guy who takes a little bit more time to get going into the season. Either way, I know I'm going to come together eventually."
Tampa hitting coach P.J. Pilittere has seen an improvement in not just Gumbs' game, but his mentality. He is well aware too that Gumbs needs to stay consistent in order to separate himself and to continue his hot streak [he had a 13-game hit streak snapped on Thursday night].
"I think confidence is a weird thing in this game," Pilittere said. "I think he just lost it a little bit, and if you don't have confidence in this game, or you even doubt yourself a small amount, it's going to show up in your results. It's really going to clog your head of who you really are.
"I think the biggest thing is he bred some confidence in himself, and you can tell. Everyday he's a confident guy now, and that confidence goes along way, it really does. I think that's the biggest difference with him right now.
"It's kind of like a lot of guys when they're young; it's just the consistency and just to be the same guy every single day. If you didn't hit two homers, don't try to hit a homer. Just be the same guy and that stuff will fall into place. He's been doing a pretty good job with that.
"I think he was doing a good job of being the same guy every day, and not just in his preparation, but in his mental approach at the plate. Regardless of his results, he came to work the next day as the same guy, and that was impressive."
The pressure is on this season somewhat after such a disappointing 2013 campaign and two injury-marred campaigns overall the past two seasons. However, his coaches see a complete turnaround for Gumbs this season.
"I expect him to put up good numbers offensively," Pedrique said. "We know the fact that the tools are there. He can run, he can hit and his defense is getting better. So, our expectation for Gumbs is to put up good numbers and stay healthy, and he can do a lot of things on the field."
"Expectations are really high for him, just like all my hitters," Pilittere added. "I expect him to continue to get better, continue to be a better pro every single day, and he's doing a good job with that right now. Ultimately, my expectation is to get him better so that he can go on to the next level."
With the pressure on this season and consistency on his mind, one goal stands out for Gumbs among all.
"The biggest goal for me is to hopefully be a call-up this September," Gumbs concluded.
Consistency Is The Key For Gumbs
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