Part-timer Bass finds slump is a full-time pain

SIDELIGHT

July 24, 1995|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,Sun Staff Writer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Years ago, Kevin Bass purchased a copy of Ted Williams' book, "The Science of Hitting," and from this he quoted as he explained his current slump.

When a hitter is swinging well, he often hits the ball to the opposite field and up the middle, which means he's keeping his weight back and not jumping at the pitch. When a hitter starts to struggle -- stage 2, as it were -- he pulls everything. A hitter mired deep in a slump, stage 3, will just strike out.

Bass figures that right now, he's in stage 2. His fifth-inning single last night was just his fourth hit in his past 26 at-bats, with no RBIs. He has one extra-base hit in his last 53 at-bats. His average has dropped from .314 on June 27 to .281, and his slide comes at a time when he's playing every day for the injured Jeffrey Hammonds, and when the Orioles are trying to catch Boston.

"Malissimo," Bass said. "Bad. It happens every year, but that's no excuse. You've just got to play through it and stay positive."

What bothers Bass more than anything is that he's not hitting in a pennant race. "We need every able body pulling his weight," Bass said. "My role is that when I'm called upon, I need to do my job. We're all responsible for doing our part. When I don't pull my own weight, that's the frustrating part."

For the first two months of the season, Bass was a consistent source of adrenalin for the Orioles. Manager Phil Regan would put him in as a pinch hitter, and he delivered. He would get an occasional start, and get a couple of hits. He hit three homers in a stretch of 10 days in mid-June, drove in runs in four straight appearances.

"My main thing is that when I get a chance to play, I want to boost the team," Bass said. "That's where I get my satisfaction [as a part-time player]. You don't want to be a liability. You want to be a positive and a plus.

"I know I did it early in the season, but as of late. . . ."

As of late, he has been a liability. Hammonds was struggling before he went on the disabled list last week, and Bass has been since taking over. The Orioles, therefore, have gotten a total of two RBIs from their right fielders in July.

Bass knows his problem: He's shifting his weight too quickly, lurching at the ball. By the time he actually swings, his weight is already shifted and he's effectively lost any power to apply to the ball.

"When you do that, there's nothing there with your swing," he said.

Nothing. Right now, with Hammonds and Chris Hoiles on the disabled list and Bobby Bonilla still wearing a New York Mets uniform, they need something.

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