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Romine displaying refined approach at plate

CLEVELAND -- At some point during Spring Training, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus talked about Andrew Romine and his bunting work. The goal, Ausmus said at the time, was for Romine to try to reach base safely in any way possible.

It wasn't just bunt work. For Romine, it was an overall approach.

"[I] did a lot of testing stuff out during Spring Training," Romine said Saturday, "and tried to pick up where I left off from last year, because I had a good last month or two. I'm trying to get things going back that way and just see more pitches and not get as jumpy."

Romine wanted to be calmer at the plate -- not just for strategic reasons but for physical ones. The quieter the approach at the plate, the more still the eyes would be, and the easier it would be to track pitches, and the easier the decision whether to attack a pitch.

"Just see more, kind of calm everything down a little bit," Romine continued. "I was doing too much jumping, trying to step and hit at the same time, as opposed to step to hit."

Not only did Romine have more strikeouts (60) than hits (57) last season, he had a 3-to-10 walk-to-strikeout ratio. That had to improve. Toward the end of the season, it did; he batted .298 (14-for-47) with four walks and five strikeouts over the final month of 2014.

The numbers in Spring Training weren't pretty, as Romine batted .200 (10-for-50) with 13 strikeouts. But he also walked six times.

"I had a purpose," Romine said. "I wasn't taking [pitches] just to take them. I was taking them to use that to try and get my eyes a little more level."

Saturday marked Romine's first at-bats since Spring Training, and they were against reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber. He had an infield single his first time up, then walked in each of his next three plate appearances. Two of them helped spearhead rallies.

"I think that's overlooked a lot, especially in a game like today, where there's a lot of things that happened," Ian Kinsler said. "He gets a tough assignment right off the bat. He's got to play shortstop. He's got to face last year's Cy Young winner. And he had great at-bats all night, professional at-bats all the way to the last one. … To be able to have a guy like that, that can fill in, that's huge for a team."

Said Romine: "I wasn't really focusing on [Kluber]. I was more trying to focus on myself and being balanced and seeing pitches, trying to stay level. To be honest with you, I was pleasantly surprised with how well I was seeing it, for it being the first at-bats of the season and not having hit in like a week or so."

Asked how many at-bats his extra work helped him on, Romine said, "All of them."

Jason Beck is a reporter for Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.
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