Maybe it’s a coincidence, but ever since Mark Reynolds took over at third for Lonnie Chisenhall, he’s been in a slump.
Chisenhall was optioned to Triple-A Columbus May 13. Up to that time, Reynolds had played third, first and ranked as the Indians’ most-frequent designated hitter, playing about an equal number of games at each spot.
Now that he is a fixture at third, trouble has come his way. Since May 24, Reynolds is batting .195 with one home run and 16 strikeouts in 41 at-bats. That’s an average of one strikeout every 2.6 at-bats, his career average.
But for most of the first two months of the season, Reynolds was striking out at the rate of once every 3.8 at-bats, a significant improvement.
Moreover, since Chisenhall left, Reynolds has hit only two home runs, after hitting 11 before May 13.
Defensively, Reynolds has also struggled recently. He has problems throwing on the run, especially when he has to charge the ball at third.
Maybe Reynolds is thinking about his defensive lapses when he comes to the plate. But manager Terry Francona denied that.
“I asked him that,” Francona said. “I think he’s enjoying the heck out of it [third]. And he told me that if he needed a break he would say something to me.”
High hopes remain
Losing 12 of its past 16 games apparently hasn’t dashed the Tribe’s hopes of winning the division championship.
When a reporter in New York asked Nick Swisher about the club’s aspirations for locking up a wild-card berth, he said: “Wild card? We’re not thinking about the wild card. This is a completely different team [from last year] with a completely different coaching staff.”
Added Corey Kluber: “I wouldn’t say we’re on a downward trend. This is just a tough stretch of games. Nobody is hitting the panic button. We all have confidence in each other.”
According to Elias Sports Bureau, Kluber allowed a run in the first inning for the first time all season Wednesday against the New York Yankees. … Kluber is winless in his past four starts. … Yan Gomes hit four home runs in his past nine games. … The Tribe is 6-17 against the American League East and has lost eight road games in a row.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.