FORT WAYNE – Maxx Tissenbaum tried everything to break his slump at the plate.
The TinCaps second baseman changed his walk-out music after a couple 0-for-3 days. He spent some time in the batting cage. But not much seemed to work.
He wrote about it, too.
Slumps have been around for as long as baseball has, Tissenbaum wrote in a May 25 post on his Wordpress blog, Maxx54Padres. They are inevitable, they are miserable, they screw with your head and they seem to never end.
The desperation set in – and not just for Tissenbaum, who batted .325 in April and has gone .159 in May.
Fort Wayne had three batters above .300 in April. Now, they have one: Gabriel Quintana, who is one of two hitters to improve his batting average this month.
The rest of the roster has slumped. Most have done so drastically.
Players approach droughts at the plate differently. For Jeremy Baltz, whose average dipped nearly 50 points in May, the fix is different each time.
If you’re struggling, that’s the time you got to put in work in the batting cages, all the extra work you can to kind of figure out what’s causing the slump, Baltz said. If you’re hitting balls hard, right at guys, you shouldn’t change a thing – just keep doing what you’re doing.
In a 7-3 loss to South Bend on Friday, the team switched up its routine. The players took batting practice off and went with some light drills instead. The move seemed to work, as the TinCaps scored more runs than in their previous three games combined and more hits than in their previous two.
But success is relative. And it wasn’t until a 6-5 win Sunday that Fort Wayne finally – tentatively – seemed to be past its unenviable streak.
We just gotta keep coming in and doing our stuff. The main thing is not to change anything mentally, Corey Adamson said after that 7-3 loss at Parkview Field. Hitting’s contagious, and so is winning. If we start getting on a roll, which we will, then we’ll be fine.
The confidence led to results Sunday, when Fort Wayne broke a season-worst five-game losing streak. The TinCaps had lost eight of 10 games before the victory.
Manager Jose Valentin said his team was spoiled by a great month to start the season. The players were not ready for the regression to the mean that happens for any player, and any team.
If you want to get out of a slump, you gotta go up there and work hard – you gotta go up there and want to be out of a slump, said Valentin, a 15-year Major League veteran. To be able to play this game, you have to be positive every day. You have to show up here every day to try to get better.
For much of May, the hitters didn’t have that approach, Valentin said. And it showed.
But, as one pitcher put it, there isn’t a set formula for breaking down mental, or physical, barriers.
Baseball is a mysterious sport, starting pitcher Zach Eflin said. You just gotta deal with what you’re dealt.
After posting his blog Saturday, Tissenbaum stepped up in the eighth inning Sunday, his team down 5-4 against Bowling Green.
The second baseman cracked his second hit of the day, a two-run homer, helping the TinCaps end a five-game losing streak.