By Sheldon Ocker
Beacon Journal sports writer
CLEVELAND: The dilemma: How to bring Mark Reynolds out of his three-month slump to give the Indians’ offense more punch.
Since the end of April, Reynolds has compiled a batting average of .184 with seven home runs and 25 RBI. And he’s fallen deeper into a hole as the season has progressed. He batted .218 in May, .187 in June and is hitting only .106 with no home runs and one RBI this month.
Manager Terry Francona is the man who is supposed to do something about this, though his options are limited. Basically, he can give Reynolds time off to clear his mind (and use someone more productive in the lineup) or keep playing him in the hope that as the swings pile up, he will rediscover his stroke and his eye.
‘‘Quite honestly, I don’t know,’’ Francona said Monday when asked about the best approach. ‘‘I think we all feel like he has that [hot] streak in him. As a manager, you have to walk that line between when to be stubborn and when to be patient.’’
Reynolds was super hot in April, when he batted .301 with eight home runs and 22 RBI.
‘‘I do know that he has the ability to carry our team better than anyone we have,’’ Francona said. ‘‘We all saw that the first month.’’
After sitting out four of the past six games, Reynolds was in the lineup Monday night against the Chicago White Sox.
“We talked,’’ Francona said. “He’s a pretty solid kid. But he got himself into this predicament. I’ll do the best I can and try to take advantage when we are facing some lefties.’’
These are the circumstances in which Reynolds has performed best this year (more than 10 at-bats):
■ When the count is 1-and-1, he is batting .500 (6-for-12).
■ Swinging at the first pitch, he is batting .324 (11-for-34).
■ When the bases are loaded, he is batting .313 (5-for-16).
■ In the fifth inning, he is batting .293 (12-for-41).
■ Against the Rays, he is batting .357 (5-for-14).
■ In Fenway Park he is batting .357 (5-for-14).
Eventually, slumps become more mental than mechanical. Undoubtedly, Reynolds is fighting himself these days.
‘‘Once he gets on a roll, no matter what his average is, he’s dangerous,’’ Francona said. ‘‘But he’s gotten himself into a pretty good bind.’’
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.