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Kipnis, Sarbaugh work on drill to square up grounders

All-Star focuses on fundamentals with Indians' third-base coach

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- On a half-diamond in the back of the Indians' spring complex, second baseman Jason Kipnis positioned himself near third base. Rather than stand in a typical stance, Kipnis shifted to his knees and gloved a stream of ground balls.

On the first official day of Spring Training for Cleveland on Wednesday, Kipnis worked the unique drill with third-base coach Mike Sarbaugh into his workout. The second baseman worked on grounders both to his left and right, using this specific drill to focus on the fundamentals of his glove position and reactions.

"That's something he likes," Sarbaugh said of the drill. "Lonnie [Chisenhall] does it, too. I try to do it with most of the guys, but some guys like it more than others and it's more of a warmup. Kip did it throughout the season. Lonnie did it throughout the season. It's something where they can work the glove and not really worry about the hops or just moving around. They can just concentrate on squaring the ball up."

Kipnis, who arrived to Arizona a little more than two weeks ago, showed up leaner than last spring, and he is determined to bounce back strong after a rough, injury-plagued 2014 campaign. Last year, the second baseman dealt with oblique and hamstring issues that had a negative influence both on his offensive and defensive performance.

An All-Star in 2013, Kipnis wants to use this spring to get back to where he was physically and from a production standpoint two years ago. Part of that includes cleaning up his defense, making daily drills an important part of his Spring Training program. Over the offseason, Kipnis focused on more agility-based workouts after bulking up too much two winters ago.

"I did a lot more free-weight movements, cone drills, moving around and not heavy lifting," Kipnis said. "I was getting stretched every morning, so now I'm more flexible and more agile and all that stuff. I'm doing all the right things that I need to do."

The unique drill with Sarbaugh on Wednesday was just one example of how Kipnis is preparing for the upcoming season.

"It's just getting his glove in a good position out front. It's just using his hands," Sarbaugh said. "He has a tendency not to bend at his waist. We're trying to get him to bend at his waist and catch the ball out front. It just creates good, soft hands."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.
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