'Altered' swing giving Longoria more pop

Slugger on pace to set AL HR record for third basemen

'Altered' swing giving Longoria more pop

CLEVELAND -- Evan Longoria has always maintained that the more a hitter tries to hit a home run, the less chance he has of hitting one.

While the Rays slugger hasn't changed his opinion on the subject, he has made changes at the plate and home runs are leaving his bat more frequently than at any point in his career, including his 18th of the season in the first inning of Monday's 7-4 loss to the Indians at Progressive Field.

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Hitting home runs is "definitely not in my mind," Longoria said. "The at-bat today, [Josh Tomlin] threw me a cutter away and the pitch I hit out was a two-seamer, middle in. I was thinking cutter away and just reacted to the pitch. There was a runner at second base, so I'm just trying to drive the guy in there, not hit a home run. When you have guys on base, the approach tends to be different."

Longoria has now homered in nine of his last 15 games. He is on pace to break the American League single-season record for home runs hit by a third baseman, 43, set by Cleveland's Al Rosen in 1953.

Rosen had 18 home runs after 68 games in 1953, which is where Longoria found himself after Monday's game. He has nine home runs in June, which leaves him one short of his personal best for a month when he hit 10 in August of 2011.

Previously, the most home runs Longoria had after 68 games was 14 in 2013, when he hit 32.

As hard as he fought to do so, Longoria said he never did feel comfortable at the plate in 2015. He recently "altered" his swing "just a little bit" and he feels like he's on a roll.

Longoria has "widened out" his stance a little bit.

"And I think it's just enabled me to see the ball better," Longoria said. "It's kind of just one of those moments where you realize what you did early on in your career isn't going to work, or doesn't always work the whole time. It was a change that took place gradually. But now I feel like I'm in a really good spot.

"I'm just seeing the ball well. And allowing myself to get into hitter's counts and taking advantage of those counts. So, it was kind of a change that took place, maybe 20 games in. It's tough to change what you've done and had success with for so long, but I had some success with the little change that I've made and now I've just kind of gone to it full time. It's just put me in a good spot."

Particularly compared to last season.

"There were stretches last year where I felt like I was really struggling to see the ball," Longoria said. "Even when I'm not getting hits I feel pretty confident at the plate. I feel like I'm in a good spot, so it's been good."

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.