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Naked truth: No slump cures


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Naked truth: No slump cures

Struggling Mike Lowell (.198) gets plenty of advice, some of it weird.

By Joe Capozzi


Palm Beach Post Staff Writer


Tuesday, May 03, 2005


ATLANTA ? Mike Lowell is off to the worst start of his career, but he's not ready to resort to extreme measures to break out of his slump.


So the Marlins' third baseman won't be shaving his head, asking a priest to bless his bats or taking batting practice in the nude ? it's all been done before ? though Lowell is getting a little desperate.


"The other day he used Josh Beckett's bat,'' Marlins outfielder Lenny Harris said. "He got a base hit.''


Beckett is a big right-hander with a puny career .135 batting average, but Lowell isn't in position to be too picky. A career .320 hitter in April with 28 home runs coming into the season, Lowell finished last month with a .198 batting average that pushed him from fifth to seventh in the batting order.


After going 0-for-17 at one point, he has hit in his past seven games. But he hasn't had more than one hit in a game since April 8 and he hasn't had an RBI since April 20.


"I'm seeing the ball a little better but I'm still not stringing together anything except one-fers,'' he said. "I'll just keep trucking.''


The old saying goes that slumps are like colds ? every hitter gets one. From Joe DiMaggio, who was hitting .184 on May 14, 1941, when he started his 56-game hitting streak, to Bill Bergen, a Brooklyn catcher who went 0-for-46 in 1909.


Groundhog Day with a bat


But ask a hitter what it's like to go through a slump . . .


"It's like when you have a bad day at work every day for two weeks," said Pirates All-Star shortstop Jack Wilson, who suffered through an 0-for-24 last month.


"You have a boss you don't like or a co-worker who harasses you. You go into work every day with a nasty, throw-up feeling in your stomach, but every day you say, 'Today's the day, today's the day.' "


No possible remedy is considered too exotic.


Former Red Sox slugger Mike Greenwell used to gather the team's bats in the dark and light a circle of candles around them ? a seance intended to awaken the dead wood.


When he was with the Marlins, catcher Mike Redmond once stripped to the buff and went into the batting cage ? an indoor cage ? to practice hitting balls off a tee.


"I've taken four different bats to the plate in the course of a game,'' said Jeff Conine, who endured an 0-for-27 skid when he played in Baltimore, "and, of course, if one gets a hit, then that's the reason you did it, so you stick with it.''


Slumps can even follow players off the field. Mired in his infamous 0-for-32 skid last year, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter couldn't leave his Manhattan apartment without the doorman telling him, "Tonight's the night! I've got a feeling this is it!''


While going through a slump in his playing days, Marlins hitting coach Bill Robinson remembers taking different streets to the ballpark, using different lanes at highway tollbooths.


"You start cutting your hair. You brush your teeth 12 times. You just try to do something different because you wonder if it can change your slump,'' Harris said.


"Me, I just try to ride my motorcycle or my 5.09 Mustang just to relax. Take a high-speed ride, get on the highway and let it rip.


"Or I'll go to the beach to get away from baseball. But when you come off that beach, you start thinking about it again: 'Damn, I need to get a hit!' "


Former Astros catcher Cliff Johnson once took his bats with him to church. And in April 1953, after Gil Hodges went 0-for-21 in the 1952 World Series, Brooklyn priests asked their parishioners to pray for the Dodgers first baseman.


"A priest is not going to hit for you,'' Marlins first baseman Carlos Delgado said. "(Bats) can be blessed and they might never break, but you've still got to hit the ball.


"Usually slumps are because you're not looking at the ball. It's just like you're driving a car, and if you're not looking at the road and thinking about something else, you can get into an accident. It's exactly the same thing.''


In the end, it's try, try again


Many players find solutions by watching video of their swings. But most simply swing their way out of a slump at the plate.


"If there was one thing you could do to get out of a slump, this game would be a lot easier,'' Conine said. "It tears you up because you've been doing this for so long. You've gone through so many slumps, you think you'd know the perfect ingredient to get out of it more quickly.''


Sometimes the perfect ingredients can be found in the kitchen.


"When I was playing in the minor leagues,'' Marlins bench coach Harry Dunlop said, "whenever I'd be in a little slump, my wife would always make an Italian dinner for me before I went to the ballpark.


"Shells and sauce would always seem to bring me out of a slump.''


Dunlop, 71, laughed about all the fuss made over a hitting slump.


"This is a funny game when (hitters) can fail 70 percent of the time and be considered good,'' he said. "What other business could you be in and consider that a success? In baseball you do.


"The toughest thing in baseball for an individual is to learn to deal with failure, but there is more failure than there is success.''


Staff researcher Sammy Alzofon contributed to this story




Mike just needs to relax and have fun.

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It's been said before... change his song back to "Party Up".



Honestly, I'm suprised it hasn't happened yet. In '97, Sheff changed his entrance music to something other than the Star Wars Imperial March and he started slumping, after a few days, the sound guys went back to the Imperial March.


And when you consider Lowell had DMX as his music for a day shorter than forever, I think it's just a matter of time.

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I wonder if they allow cowbells inside the stadium. They're so weird about what not to bring in, who knows. If someone can get a group of fans to play the cowbells when Mikey is up to bat, that would be awesome. :lol

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Lowell needs to call Jeter from last years slump and ask him how he broke out.


He will break out and when he does another player will be in a slump let just hope it aint Cabrera, Pierre, Encar, I would have put Delgado on there but it seems like he is already in a slump.


Lets go Lowell keep us in the win column.

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