Jerry Hairston was a struggling second baseman for the Baltimore Orioles in 2002, when David Segui set up a meeting between him and Jaramillo. The Rangers were finished playing the Orioles that season and Jaramillo was willing to give Hairston a little help."It was really more of a conversation," Hairston said. "We didn't do any training. It was more talking about hitting. I wasn't getting my front foot down in time. I went back and looked at my tapes and saw I was late. I was hitting about .220 at the time. I did what he said and ended up hitting .295 in the second half." Jaramillo, who is one of the highest-paid coaches in the game, has helped some of the best hitters in the game, but he is hardly more than just a hitting coach to the stars. Jaramillo is willing to give as much time as possible to anybody, and that's why he was out in the batting cages at 8 a.m. on a cold Saturday morning in the desert working with Minor League infielder Ramon Vazquez. That's also why so many players over the years have had their careers resurrected under Jaramillo's guidance. The Rangers don't win an American League West title in 1996 without weak-hitting shortstop Kevin Elster, who came into camp as a non-roster player and ended up hitting .252 with 24 home runs and 99 RBIs. The list of reclamation projects over the years includes Lee Stevens, Mark McLemore, Mike Simms, David Dellucci, Mark DeRosa, Gary Matthews Jr. and Rod Barajas. "That's how you have to approach it as a coach," Jaramillo said. "I remember when I was playing in the Minor Leagues. When I was a prospect, everybody was on you. But when you're a non-prospect, nobody talks to you. I've never been that way. I'll always give you equal time. I'm a teacher even more than a coach." Jaramillo's five tenets of hitting are well known around the league: 1. Rhythm.
2. Seeing the ball and timing.
3. Separation of front foot going forward and the hands going back into hitting position.
4. Staying square at the plate and not pulling off the ball.
5. Proper weight transfer for maximum power. But Jaramillo also works extensively on the mental part of hitting: staying positive, building confidence and visualizing success rather than dwelling on struggles. The hitting coach talks about a study done with two groups of five basketball players. One group practiced shooting 100 free throws each. The second group just visualized making 100 free throws each. The two groups then had a free-throwing shooting contest, and the five players who had only visualized making free throws ended up winning. "Physical talent is one thing, but the mental part is huge -- getting kids to believe in themselves, having a good positive image and having a plan," Jaramillo said. "If the mind is strong enough and you have enough conviction to do something, you can do it. "You have to be patient and you have to be positive because this game is so much mental, and these guys are going to have their struggles. I want to be right there mentally as well as physically." He has been there for the Rangers for the past 12 years.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.