Until last night, I?d been in a little rut. But it didn?t really matter that much because we were still winning as a team. We have enough talent on this club that when one of us is scuffling, the rest of the lineup finds a way to pick him up and win anyway. As long as we get Ws, individual performances don?t matter that much. We have the luxury in our lineup of being able to win, even during those times when we?re not running on all cylinders.
When one of us gets hot -? Carlos Delgado, Cliff Floyd, Carlos Beltran ?- we can carry the team a little bit and maybe single-handedly win ballgames. When we are running on all cylinders, we can be a dangerously potent offense.
Plus, we have enough depth that we don?t miss a beat when we give someone a rest. Like last night, Julio Franco stepped into the lineup and we were able to give Carlos Delgado a breather. Being able to move people in and out of the lineup like that keeps the starters and the bench players fresh. We?re in a position to do that because we have one of the best benches in the National League.
So if I?m not hitting for a week or so, or Cliff?s not hitting, or Carlos isn?t hitting, we have the luxury of working out of it without taking the team down with us. That takes some of the pressure off whoever is in a slump at any given time.
I really haven?t been that concerned, even though I?ve been scuffling for a couple weeks. I learned a lot about how to deal with failure back in 2003 when I was playing high-A ball in the Florida State League. I scuffled the whole first half. Going through that period, I realized that the mental challenges of being a slump are usually bigger than the physical aspects.
I?ve been playing the game for some time, so I have the muscle memory and I?m confident I have the physical ability to hit. The key is not to let the slump eat you up mentally. Sometimes you overthink the situation and get in your own head too much. If you take it home with you and think about it too much and criticize yourself, you?re in danger of prolonging the slump.
So I?ve learned to trust in my ability and keep my confidence level up. As much as I?d love to go out there and hit .500, realistically it?s probably not going to happen. Learning to deal with failure is one of the keys to succeeding in baseball because, like they say, if you fail 70 percent of the time, you?re still a .300 hitter.
I?m also fortunate to have so many veterans surrounding me. These guys have all been through slumps before and know how to react. Sometimes, as a young player, getting a hit or not getting a hit can seem like a life-and-death situation. But if you watch and listen to the veterans around you it can help you put things in better perspective.
I definitely consider myself a young player still. We?ve got guys in this clubhouse who have been doing it for 10 or 12 years and I almost have two years under my belt, so I have plenty to learn from them. I feel like I?m still going to school every day.
You may have noticed some new looks …
A few people have asked about the new helmets we?re wearing this season. I like them. I consider myself an old-school type of player, but I?ll try new things. The helmets are a little flashy and futuristic with the two-tone look. But they?re also light, so I?ve convinced myself that they allow me run faster and jump higher. If I seem a little more athletic this season it?s because of the helmets.
It?s still a little cool in New York at this time of year, but hopefully they?ll also keep me from overheating during the summer months coming up. I?ll keep you posted.
I?ve also gotten some questions asking why I?m wearing my pant legs down again. It?s simple: the last time I wore my pants up, we got beat, I made three errors and didn?t get any hits. So I?ve decided to retire that look, at least for the time being.
The veterans on the team give me a hard time about it when I wear the pants up, anyway. Of course, they?ll give me a hard time about just about anything.
I guess the general feeling is that the pants-up look is a high school or college type of style. Not that there?s anything wrong with that, but there?s a high value on looking and acting like a professional in this clubhouse.
Narrowing down the list of names …
I?ve been studying the names that everyone?s been sending in for my blog. I didn?t realize there would be so many of them to consider. But I?m really impressed with the level of creativity and I?m beginning to narrow them down. I have a few favorites, so maybe by the next time I post a blog, I?ll have made a decision. I need a little while longer.
Until next time …