Elly belts 470-foot homer to continue torrid spring start

March 2nd, 2024

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The sound of the bat hitting the ball and the reaction of the crowd at Salt River Fields was an indicator enough that crushed a home run in the Reds' 10-4 loss against the Rockies on Saturday.

De La Cruz took a long look anyway. He knew right away his drive was going out as he watched his first-inning long ball on Rockies pitcher Cal Quantrill's 1-1 pitch.

"I saw that and knew it was a blast," teammate Noelvi Marte said, via translator Jorge Merlos. "I’m proud of all the work he has been able to do in the offseason. You can see that it’s showing off here."

The ball landed high up on the grassy hill in right-center field for De La Cruz's first homer of the spring.

“It feels great," De La Cruz said in English.

“I don’t know if he hit it great, which is crazy," Reds manager David Bell said. "He looks really good at the plate.”

The projected distance of the home run was 470 feet.

“You can say it’s one of my better swings that I’ve ever done," De La Cruz said via Merlos. "Hopefully there are more like that coming soon.”

De La Cruz, 22, is no stranger to massive home run swings, having cleared 450 feet on four of his 13 homers last season. He is batting .417 (5-for-12) in his five spring games.

Although De La Cruz successfully pulled the ball on his homer, some of his other hits -- and outs -- have been hit to the opposite field.

“I’m working on it. We can use the whole field," he said, again in English.

De La Cruz's decent start to Spring Training is an encouraging sign that his offseason hitting adjustments have taken root. He spent time over the winter with Reds hitting coach Joel McKeithan and some of the changes included lessening De La Cruz's leg kick and seeing the ball longer before committing to a swing.

Against Colorado, De La Cruz drew a pair of walks in his other two plate appearances after the homer.

"I’m being patient and waiting for my pitch.” said De La Cruz, who struck out 144 times in 427 plate appearances as a rookie last season.

De La Cruz batted left-handed in all three plate appearances, but he's gotten some hits batting right-handed in previous games.

That's another good sign.

“I feel comfortable on both sides," he said. "I’m working on my zone control and I feel comfortable.”