CHICAGO -- Before every game, a few minutes before it's time to get on the field and stretch, Albert Pujols gets the attention of shortstop Erick Aybar and third baseman Alberto Callaspo. At that point, they know -- it's time to grab your bats and head to the cage for early batting practice.
"When you're always hitting with a guy like that, who's hit .300 his entire career, it helps out a lot," Aybar said in Spanish. "He corrects us a lot, me and Callaspo. … He has a great mind for hitting."
Aybar felt the benefits of that a few weeks ago, when Pujols -- quick to offer his opinion if he sees something wrong with a teammate's approach -- noticed he was overanxious at the plate. He was diving at balls, torquing his body too aggressively and not letting pitches travel deep enough to slap them the other way like he normally does.
And since then, Aybar has taken off, batting .352 (31-for-88) over a 23-game stretch that has seen his batting average rise by 32 points -- from .257 to .289.
"At the start, I was swinging too crazy," Aybar said before leading off Tuesday's game at Wrigley Field. "Now I feel better because I'm more calm. I'm seeing pitches better."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less