Rangers' Josh Hamilton stuck in a June slump

Posted Sunday, Jun. 24, 2012  comments  Print Reprints
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ARLINGTON -- Josh Hamilton swung and missed at the first three pitches he saw on Saturday. His next time up, he grounded out to the pitcher. He struck out his final three at-bats, as he went 0 for 5 with four strikeouts against Colorado.

The four strikeouts matched his career high and came on a day after he struck out three times. It's the third time in his career to strike out at least three times in consecutive games.

Hamilton has been struggling ever since the calendar turned to June. He is batting .191 with one home run, seven RBIs and 26 strikeouts over 18 games this month.

Hamilton spoke briefly about his struggles prior to Saturday's game.

"You can't dominate all the time," said Hamilton, who spent a night in an area hospital with an intestinal virus earlier this month. "Maybe I'm tired from having a really good April and May... could be? I don't know. Or it could be I'm just not hot right now."

Hamilton put together remarkable months to start the season, winning the AL Player of the Month for April and May. He batted .395 with nine home runs and 25 RBIs in April and followed that with a .344 average, 12 home runs and 32 RBIs in May.

Rangers manager Ron Washington would like to see Hamilton have more patience at the plate. On Saturday, for instance, Hamilton took a first-pitch ball in his fourth at-bat but then swung and missed on the next three pitches.

Hamilton has always been an aggressive hitter, and it's suited him well the majority of his career. His four home runs on May 8 at Baltimore came with him being relatively aggressive -- a first-pitch homer, a 2-0 count, an 0-1 count and an 0-2 count.

Rangers hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh hasn't seen anything different in Hamilton's mechanics and doesn't feel patience is the problem.

"A moving bat is a dangerous bat in my eyes," Coolbaugh said. "You don't want to stop swinging and get him caught in between. He's just got to a point where he won the [player of the month] two months in a row, and he's going through a stuttering point that I think every hitter goes through. He's hit that point right now, and he's got to fight through it. He's always been one to go up there and swing.

"To me, it's what he does after the first strike. His at-bats have not been efficient after one strike in the last couple of weeks. The at-bats aren't extended. They're quick outs, and consequently you're seeing the strikeouts."

Washington trusts his players and doesn't plan on making any drastic changes to the lineup. All of his players have impressive résumés and track records that suggest they'll eventually get it back together.

"When you start making changes, that's panic," Washington said. "We don't panic. We're going to play it out, and it usually works for us. I believe in them, that's why nothing has changed."

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @drewdavison

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