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Destin Hood signed with Alabama in 2008,
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Tarasco helped Hood learn how to take "banana routes" to balls, circling behind them and fielding them with momentum going back toward the infield. The two worked together extensively last season when Tarasco was the hitting coach at low-Class-A Hagerstown.
"You get a guy with a standup makeup and character of Destin Hood, it makes my job twice as easy," Tarasco said. "Destin worked so diligently on a consistent basis. His hunger is incredible."
LeCroy first met Hood at spring training in 2009 and came away with a first impression similar to Tarasco's. Hood appeared to be a talented athlete who simply needed more baseball experience.
"He really didn't understand the ins and outs of being a professional baseball player, what it takes," LeCroy said.
LeCroy, who managed Hood at Hagerstown last season, and Tarasco taught Hood some of the lessons that made them both successful major leaguers.
Hood learned the importance of arriving at the ballpark early to work in the batting cage. He practiced tracking balls in the outfield during batting practice, and he worked on his base running while stadiums still were quiet.
"Lots of guys show up and want to go through that routine in an hour instead of three hours, which allows the process to sink in," Tarasco said.
Hood's new routine made him feel confident and prepared by the time first pitch arrived. He didn't feel rushed.
"That seemed to help me hone my skills a little bit more than coming to the ballpark and not having a clue about where or how to start my day," he said. "It carried into the game."
Hood hit .285 last season with five homers, 65 RBIs and a .388 slugging percentage in 492 at-bats. That was an encouraging improvement from the .246 he batted in 138 at-bats with short-season-Class-A Vermont in 2009.
Hood also benefited from better plate discipline as the year progressed. Hood chased too many breaking balls out of the strike zone early in the season, LeCroy said. He struck out on 32 percent of his plate appearances in April, compared with only 12 percent in July.
"He realized that the majority of breaking balls are balls," LeCroy said. "If he'd see spin, he wouldn't swing at it early."