Rangers' Kapler Sees Hitting Streak
Tuesday, August 15th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) â€” Since changing his swing, Gabe Kapler has responded with the longest hitting streak in the majors this season and provided something positive in an otherwise frustrating summer for the Texas Rangers.
Kapler's 27-game hitting streak with a still-developing swing has established a franchise record and taken much of the attention off the mounting losses for the Rangers, a last-place team since early June.
Like Texas' chances of winning a third straight AL West title, however, Kapler knows it's a longshot that he will challenge Joe DiMaggio's seemingly unreachable 56-game hitting streak of 1941.
Even with at least one hit in every game since July 17, Kapler still isn't halfway to DiMaggio. He would have to continue the streak another month for the major league record.
``I would call it daydreaming more than thinking. It's more like a dream than anything else, it's so far out,'' Kapler said. ``That blows my mind. I can't believe that somebody actually hit in 56 games straight. That's unbelievable.''
The streak was extended Monday night against the New York Yankees when Kapler hit a one-out single to center in the second inning off Andy Pettitte. Kapler also singled in the fourth and finished 2-for-4 in the Rangers' 7-3 loss.
Kapler's streak has come since the All-Star break, when he made a change in his swing. Texas hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo encouraged the right-handed hitter to substitute the slide step in his stride for a high leg kick.
``This is a credit to him for his mental toughness,'' Jaramillo said. ``It's tough to change your swing at this level with all of the pressure. He's starting to believe in himself.''
After Kapler surpassed Mickey Rivers, who hit in 24 straight for the Rangers in 1980 for the franchise record, he didn't keep the ball. Instead, he signed the ball ``Rudy, thank you. Gabe,'' put it in a glass case and gave it to Jaramillo.
Kapler said the swing change is still in the developmental process and needs some tinkering. But he's not changing anything right now.
During his streak, Kapler is hitting .380 (41-for-108) and raised his season average from .241 to .290.
Jaramillo first came into the picture in spring training after Kapler joined the Rangers via the nine-player offseason trade that sent two-time AL MVP Juan Gonzalez to Detroit.
Kapler homered in his first two Texas at-bats in the season opener, but was hitting just .200 after 25 games when he went on the disabled list with a quadriceps injury and missed 33 games.
Since returning to the lineup June 2, Kapler is hitting .327 (71-for-217). But the most marked improvement has come since he made the change in his stride during the All-Star break, and started his streak five days after that.
``It's been pretty consistently going up to the plate and looking for the ball and attacking,'' Kapler said. ``Closer to the beginning of the year, it was more of thinking about mechanics and certain things that went through my head that probably shouldn't have been there.''
Instead of thinking, Kapler is trusting his swing and his ability.
``Now when he goes to the plate, his mind is clear,'' Jaramillo said. ``He's thinking how to compete and how to beat the pitcher. He lets everything else take care of itself.''