Gomez struggles to find swing, at least in game Slumping Oriole hitting well in BP

July 01, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

Leo Gomez is the latest Oriole to fall victim to the dreaded five-letter disease. The word is slump, and it has been known to spread faster than the chickenpox, which has Brady Anderson on the disabled list.

Under different circumstances, Gomez might not have been ithe starting lineup last night. But the third baseman's brief career numbers against Toronto starter Dave Stewart (4-for-5) were enough to keep him in the lineup.

"We're scrambling with Leo right now," admitted manageJohnny Oates. "It's no secret that we've got to get him going.

"I don't know anything about hitting other than it's hard to dobut I think it's obvious to everybody that Leo's not getting the head of the bat through [the hitting area].

"Greg [hitting coach Greg Biagini] has been working with hiand we've asked Frank [assistant general manager Frank Robinson] if he has any ideas. When you have somebody like that [Robinson] around, you'd have to be crazy not to use him."

Robinson, who occasionally works with hitters, most recentlspent time discussing theories with Cal Ripken. "A lot of times, when we're taking extra batting practice, we'll ask Frank to come down and watch to see if he has any suggestions," said Biagini.

"Right now, everything I want to see from Leo I'm seeing earl[during batting practice]. But he hasn't been able to carry it into the game.

"As much as anything, I think it's a matter of relaxing, feelincomfortable in the batter's box and seeing the ball," said Biagini.

Gomez, who after going 0-for-3 last night is hitless in his past 2at-bats and in a 9-for-92 (.097) funk during a 26-game stretch, acknowledged that he's having trouble finding a comfort zone. "I'm seeing the ball OK," he said, "but right now I'm not real comfortable at home plate.

"I just need to relax more. But the good thing is that we've beewinning and I've been playing good defense," said Gomez.

In fact, his error last night was his first in 21 games.

At the plate, other than the struggle to find a comfort zoneGomez doesn't feel there's need for any drastic changes. And for the most part he doesn't get any argument from the staff.

"We all recognize what Leo's problem is," said Robinson, whhas watched Gomez during early hitting the past two days. "In old fashioned terms, he's hitting with his foot in the bucket -- pulling out on the pitch too soon.

"The thing you try to do is get him to hit to the opposite field, oback up the middle. But that's a lot easier said than done.

"The only suggestion I made was to have Greg tell Leo tconcentrate on keeping both hands on the bat. His top hand has been coming off. Watching him take batting practice the last two days he hasn't looked like the same person.

"He's hit the ball great, but like Greg said, he hasn't been able ttake that into the game with him. When you're in a rut like Leo's in, or like Cal was in, it takes time. What he needs right now, more than anything else, is to get a few hits, and have a little success," said Robinson.

In his first 40 games, Gomez hit .275, with eight home runs an20 RBI. He's hit two more home runs since to rank second on the club, but has added only four RBI.

"I know everybody goes through slumps, but I just want to gethis one over," said Gomez.

He's hardly alone. The Orioles still are relying heavily on his home run power to resurface as they attempt to keep the division-leading Blue Jays within sight.

SUMMERTIME BLUES

As the weather has gotten hotter, Leo Gomez has gotten colder in terms of average. His offensive performance for the first three months of the season:

Month.. .. .. .. Avg.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. HRs

April .. .. .. ...321 (18-for-56).. .. .. .. 2

May .. .. .. .. ..215 (20-for-93) .. .. .. .. 6

June .. .. .. .. .111 (9-for-81) .... .. .. .2

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