Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Priceless Advice

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Priceless Advice

Article excerpt

NEW YORK - Not long after being hired as Mets hitting coach last winter, Kevin Long received a text message in Hawaii from Daniel Murphy.

The Mets' lefty-hitting infielder was looking for an unvarnished evaluation of his swing.

Long's quick assessment met with Murphy's own thoughts about how to improve on a 2014 season in which he batted .289 with nine homers and 57 RBI.

A few weeks later, spring training camp served as their strategy headquarters.

"He always says it, 'I'm not hunting for hits anymore; I'm hunting to do damage.' And there's a big difference," said Long, the overjoyed adviser to Murphy's breakout October.

Murphy, 30, enters Tuesday night's World Series opener on a historic postseason run, with home runs in six straight playoff games and a .421 batting average (16-for-38) in the Mets' division series and NL Championship Series wins.

"I've been blessed to see the ball pretty well the last week or so," Murphy said heading into Game 1 at Kansas City.

As for the five-day layoff between games following the Mets' NLCS sweep of the Cubs, Murphy doesn't feel it will serve to ice him or the club.

And when he's got a question about any pitcher on the Royals' staff, "I know he's going to have all the answers," Murphy said of Long. "And there is a level of peace to that."

After improving his production to 14 homers and 73 RBI with a .281 regular-season average, Murphy's seven homers, 11 RBI and consistent hard contact over his first nine postseason games takes Long back to the hours spent in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

"We saw glimpses of that right away, that he was able to do more damage than he had done in the past," Long said. "This was him all along."

Robinson Cano turned into an elite hitter during Long's tenure as Yankees hitting coach. Like Cano, Murphy already was a contact hitter with comparatively low strikeout totals. …

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