ST. LOUIS -- Akinori Iwamura is hot.
He has hit safely in 14 of his last 15 games, hitting .382 (26-for-68) in the process, to raise his average from .202 to .271.
"I've been focused since the first game of the season," Iwamura said. "Right now, I'm swinging well because I'm going down through the ball."
Iwamura traces his getting on track to a game against the Red Sox on May 3.
"Because I'm using my lower half, I hit the home run in Fenway Park [to the] opposite field [off Josh Beckett]," Iwamura said. "Since then, I've felt real comfortable."
When Joe Maddon was asked about what Iwamura has been doing, the Rays' manager answered a question with a question: "When's the last time you saw him hit a fly-ball out?"
Maddon knows the hitters on his team who make a lot of outs hitting the ball in the air and those who don't. Iwamura is a hitter who gets better results when keeping the ball on the ground and hitting line drives.
"Of course he's not trying to hit fly balls," Maddon said. "I'm watching BP [on Friday], and he's literally hitting ground balls on purpose. He's hitting ground balls and he's not trying to do too much. And I'll tell you another thing; Watching him against [Yankees right-hander Chien-Ming] Wang, you know, the Asian delivery, where there's a little stall in it? I thought that made him get slower in his approach, too."
Iwamura is a hitting coach's nightmare, the way he moves his feet around in the batter's box, but there are better ways of dancing in the batter's box than others, according to Maddon.
"You know how he moves his feet so much?" Maddon queried. "To me, when his feet are slow, he does his best work. The slowness of his bottom half really promotes the quickness with the hands, and that's what I've been seeing. A slower bottom half, and more line drives and ground balls and out of the air."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.