ANAHEIM -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia wanted to make sure Erick Aybar's recent two-week stint on the disabled list was a productive one. So, he gave his shortstop a very specific homework assignment: watch video of 2009.
That was the year that Aybar posted career highs in batting average (.312), on-base percentage (.353) and slugging (.423). But the purpose wasn't to lift Aybar's spirits, per se. It was to help him mimic the more-simplistic stride the switch-hitter used to have from the left side of the plate.
Aybar watched, practiced it, then applied it to games upon being activated.
Now, he says, "It's like night and day. I feel like a different hitter."
The numbers back that up. Since being activated on Aug. 6, Aybar has hit .400, notching 14 hits in 35 at-bats, hitting a couple of homers and looking a lot more like the spark plug Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto envisioned when he locked Aybar up to a four-year extension in mid-April.
With his nine-game surge, Aybar has raised his batting average from .257 to .271 heading into Thursday's series opener against the Rays. As recently as May 19, it was below .200.
"His swing, his mechanics are much more in line with what he was doing in '09 than anything he's done the last couple years," Scioscia said. "Sometimes you're not going to square balls up at the plate and I think at times hitters tinker. He had some success with the little toe-tap, but as time went on it bred more inconsistencies into his swing than things it fixed."
For some reason -- he's not sure why -- Aybar fell into the habit of an additional toe-tap in his stride while hitting from the left side of the plate the past few years. Former hitting coach Mickey Hatcher was working on it with him earlier in the season, and as time went on and struggles continued, Aybar became increasingly more open to change.
He believes reliving his 2009 days helped him finally make the change.
"It helped a lot," Aybar said in Spanish. "Since then, I've just kept feeling better and better each day, and you're seeing the results."