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SEATTLE — If the Yankees’ offense is ever going to reach its potential this season, Luke Voit will have to start hitting like Luke Voit.
Sidelined by a torn meniscus in his left knee that led to surgery in spring training, then a right oblique strain that landed him back on the IL again, Voit has hardly looked like the player that led the majors in home runs last season upon his return.
But in Tuesday’s 12-1 rout over the Mariners, Voit had a career-high five hits. What pleased the first baseman and manager Aaron Boone just as much was the fact that three of the hits went to the opposite field — including an eighth-inning double.
“I’m finally hitting the ball over to right field,’’ Voit said after the game.
“He’s not just adding the length, he did a good job using the whole field,’’ Boone added. “He hadn’t used right field [recently].”
It’s something he’s done less this year than at any other point in his career. Both Boone and Voit noted for him to be successful, he can’t get pull-happy.
After producing well initially after his return from the oblique strain, Voit went through a 2-for-24 skid with just one extra-base hit from June 26 to July 3.
And he entered Wednesday’s game still not having homered since June 25.
“It’s been pretty frustrating,’’ Voit said. “I felt like I was 0-2 going up to the plate sometimes.”
The lack of home runs has been especially noticeable. His home run/fly ball rate has gone from 34.9 percent a season ago to 13 percent this season, according to Fangraphs. And Voit has made less hard contact than at any point of his career.
Perhaps some of that is due to the fact he hasn’t played in long stretches yet this year. He also might be a victim of the new ball.
Voit has acknowledged several times this season he’s tried to make up for lost time and gotten away from his approach at the plate, which has cost him.
“I’m not just a power hitter,’’ Voit said. “I need to take my hits. I was pulling off balls. I need to get back to what I was doing last year.”
He hit balls hard consistently Tuesday at T-Mobile Park, but one of the problems Voit has faced this season — along with plenty of other Yankee hitters — is hitting more ground balls than usual.
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