Craig appears to have rediscovered power stroke

Craig appears to have rediscovered power stroke

CHICAGO -- After opening the season with a homerless drought that extended 27 games and 110 at-bats, Allen Craig believes some recent tweaks to his approach can help him sustain the power output that has resurfaced over the past few days.

Craig blasted his first home run of the season against the Brewers on Saturday; eight at-bats later, he hit another, a leadoff shot in the second inning on Tuesday.

"Sometimes you just need to do it once so you can get the feeling," Craig said. "I think it took some time to get my timing back. I was hitting some balls hard before, it just wasn't enough."

Craig hit 22 home runs a year ago, averaging one every 21.3 at-bats. He never went more than 10 straight games in 2012 without going deep.

The return of his power stroke coincides with some pointed work that Craig did to get the path of his swing back to where he felt it needed to be. Craig said he has shortened his swing a bit and has discovered that the tweak has put him in a better position to square up on pitches over the middle-inside part of the plate.

Though his home run total lagged early, Craig has not suffered from a lack of overall production. Entering Wednesday's action, he ranked fifth in the National League with 26 RBIs and tied for fifth with 10 doubles. He's batting .412 with runners in scoring position, the seventh-best mark in the NL.

"He's a guy who can hit. We know that," manager Mike Matheny said. "He's a guy who can put together a big at-bat in a big situation. He seems to thrive with guys in scoring position. Those are signs of just a good all-around hitter with a good approach. He doesn't have that long of a track record, but the track record is long enough to show you that the production is going to be there. It was just a matter of not overthinking what was going on."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.