Thursday, August 26, 1999

Casey ponders how to break slump




BY CHRIS HAFT
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        ATLANTA — To Sean Casey, batting slumps were little nags that would vanish quickly. Now, Casey has admitted that his recent struggles are more substantial. And he's not sure how to treat them.

        Manager Jack McKeon rested his first baseman Wednesday and hinted that he might not play him today when the Reds open a four-game series at Montreal.

        “We'll see,” McKeon said. “The way we're going, we'll go day to day.”

        The way Casey has been going, those heady days in the .370s and .380s are becoming a memory. You can define his current skid in a number of ways: He's hitless in his last 12 at-bats, 1-for-18 since his dramatic, eighth-inning home run last Thursday against Pittsburgh's Kris Benson, and 19-for-104 (.182) since July 24, dropping his average from .374 to .330.

        Early in his slump, Casey calmly said he still felt comfortable at the plate and wanted to concentrate on maintaining a consistent approach. He sounded a little more perplexed Wednesday.

        “You try not to think about it. But how can it not be on your mind?” Casey said. “I find myself in the elevator, taking hacks (swings).”

        Casey has searched for his lost form.

        “I've taken more batting practice; I've taken less,” he said. “I've relaxed more; I've geared up more. Maybe a bloop hit or a couple of hits will turn things around.”

        He's convinced that his resurgence will come soon.

        “There's been a couple of days where I haven't swung the bat well. But you're going to have that even when you're in good stretches,” Casey said. “Everybody goes through a period when you have a bumpy road and you have to play it out. Eventually things are going to work out.”

        Casey, who's in his first full major-league season, has never accumulated more than 397 at-bats in any of his four previous years as a pro. This year he has 452.

        “It's the first time a lot of these guys have had this many at-bats in a year,” McKeon said. “A day off or two might be the tonic.”

       



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