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Bartlett's focus on average, not pop

Bartlett's focus on average, not pop

ST. PETERSBURG -- Jason Bartlett hit his second home run of the season Monday night, which surpassed his 2008 total of one.

In addition, Bartlett hit a home run against Baltimore on Sunday, so in essence, the Rays shortstop is on a home run tear by connecting for a home run on back-to-back days.

Bartlett smiled when asked about the sudden outburst of power.

"I've hit [five in a season] before, so it's not like I can't do it," Bartlett said. "I happened to run into a few early. I just hope people don't expect it this much. ... Everybody was surprised, everyone's asking me what I'm doing different. People are asking my wife, too, 'What are you feeding him?'"

Bartlett's blast in Baltimore went to right-center field.

"I don't know if there was a jet stream, or what," Bartlett said. "I hit it, came out of the box like I always do, looked up and I was like, 'Wow!' I guess [the power is] there, just a matter of putting the right swing on it."

Bartlett said he tries not to think about hitting homers.

"But everybody comes up to me and says something about it," Bartlett said. "Because the one I hit at Baltimore, I'll take any of them [like that], but because I hit it to right-center, that means I'm staying on the ball and I'm hitting it good. Those, I can think about. The ones I pull, I don't really want to get into that kind of swing."

Can Bartlett reach double-digit home runs this season?

"I always hope for it, but I'd rather have a higher average than the home runs," Bartlett said.

Rays manager Joe Maddon would like to see the same.

"We really try to emphasize with him to stay out of the air and not hit fly balls," Maddon said. "He's a much better hitter when he hits the ball on the line or on the ground. If you pay attention, you'll see that his batting average in the air is near .100."

Maddon said a lot of hitters who don't hit home runs have low averages when they hit fly balls.

"So you need to go up there with the idea of hitting lower-trajectory balls -- line-drive, hard ground balls," Maddon said. "Thus you have a better chance of being the hitter you're capable of being."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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