It took the first half of the season, but Aeros center fielder Trevor Crowe has finally found his stroke.
After piecing together a 13-game hitting streak while on the road with the Aeros, Crowe came home to Canal Park Saturday night and increased his streak to 14 games, showing off his new form with a pair of home runs in the Aeros Losing effort against Erie.
Getting the real Crowe back after such a slow start is crucial to the Aeros success in the second half, not to mention a potential playoff run. After spending the last month batting in the bottom half of the order, the Indians No. 1 pick in the 2005 draft is back in the leadoff spot where he belongs.
Aeros hitting coach Lee May Jr. spent 10 minutes talking about Crowe in depth before Saturday's game, explaining that when a young player goes through a prolonged slump like Crowe's, climbing out of the hole it causes is a lot longer process than most people realize.
"There's no magic pill to take,'' May Jr. said.
Instead, a player's entire swing is dissected and torn down, then slowly built back up.
It's a process that begins with the batter focusing on "going the other way" - a tool May Jr. called the "universal aspirin for hitting slumps.''
You know when May Jr. knew for sure Crowe was out of the slump? He pointed to Friday night's game in Bowie when Crowe turned on a high-90's fastball from the Baysox closer to tie the game in the ninth inning.
"That was Major League right there,'' May Jr. said. "That's when I knew for sure he was out (of the slump).''
Just about the time Crowe officially declared himself slump free, Aeros third baseman Pat Osborn was traded to the Houston Astros for the infamous Player to be Named Later or cash considerations, which in most minor league instances means a small amount of money.
On one hand, it's sad to see Osborn go, just like it was when popular catcher Javi Herrera was traded last month to the Washington Nationals. Both player were two of the best players people-wise you'll ever meet in the game, and really personified the character of the Aeros over the last three years.
However, both players were in prolonged slumps with their careers headed the wrong way and probably needed a fresh start somewhere else. Fortunately for Aeros fans, Herrera is playing with the nationals Double-A team in Harrisburg, which happens to visit Canal Park next home stand. However, if Osborn stays at the Double-A level with the Astros, he's headed to Round Rock in the Texas League.
Perhaps most important, Osborn's departure leaves room for Kinston third baseman Wes Hodges (batting .317 in 58 games) to make his much-anticipated move up to Akron after the All-Star break.