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News » NOTES Hardy gets some time to clear head Shortstop mired in major slump


NOTES Hardy gets some time to clear head Shortstop mired in major slump


NOTES  Hardy gets some time to clear head  Shortstop mired in major slump
J.J. Hardy wasn't about to fight the suggestion that he needed a day off, or two.

The Milwaukee Brewers' slump-ridden shortstop was out of the lineup Friday night against Arizona, and manager Ken Macha said the mental break might go beyond one day. Batting .156 with only one hit in his last 20 at-bats, Hardy admitted that his brain was a bit fried.

"I'm trying and nothing is happening," Hardy said. "I feel like the game's going 100 mph for me right now. I don't think (time off) could hurt.

"I'm trying to battle through it and relax. The more I'm not getting hits, the more and more I think I'm pressing. The game starts to go faster and faster, and I have trouble slowing down.

"It surprises me. It's frustrating. I never would expect to struggle for 80 at-bats."

Hardy, who actually has 77 at-bats this season, was the Brewers' hottest hitter during the exhibition season, batting .403 with four home runs and 15 RBI. When the season began, however, the switch flipped off, which has made it even more puzzling for him.

"That's what's weird," he said. "You can go good and it just turns around, and you've totally forgotten how to play the game. That's the hardest part.

"I'm getting frustrated with myself. I'm making adjustments here and there and making adjustments during the game, and it's not paying off. I feel like I'm trying too hard just to get a hit, putting more and more pressure on myself every at-bat."

Hardy has been using a more open stance, which he said he didn't realize until teammate Mike Rivera pointed it out recently. He also has been holding his hands farther away from his body, which he said he did during the playoffs last fall as well as spring training, with success.

"I'm trying to get them back farther, the way I had them last year (during the season)," he said. "Then I look at video and they're still way out there. I'm just trying to get comfortable and go from there."

Hardy keeps reminding himself that there are five months left in the season, and that the team has been winning of late without his offensive contributions.

Macha noted that the Brewers were in the midst of playing 20 games in a row, with no off day to allow Hardy to rest. He also pointed out that Hardy scuffled a bit in April last season, batting .244 with one homer and eight RBI.

"He'll be back," Macha said. "He has hit some balls on the barrel (of the bat) but the ball's not jumping. (Hitting coach) Dale (Sveum) feels he's pulling off the ball a little bit, so his bat is dragging a bit through the strike zone.

"You can't get too down on yourself when you're not swinging well. That's easy for me to say, though. He's the guy going home at night and probably twisting and turning in bed, trying to figure it out."

Minor-leaguer suspended: Class A Wisconsin right-hander Pedro Lambertus was suspended for 50 games for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. The commissioner's office reported that Lambertus tested positive for metabolites of Boldenone, a steroid.

Lambertus, 20, was 0-1 with a 4.91 earned run average in three relief outings, with one save. He signed as a non-drafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic in September 2006.

Pump up the volume: After entering his first game with a save opportunity for the Brewers on Tuesday night against Pittsburgh, closer Trevor Hoffman pleaded for more volume to his entrance song, AC/DC's "Hells Bells." Somebody was listening, because when Hoffman emerged from the bullpen Thursday for a save against Arizona, the music was much louder.

"I think it added a little energy to the whole 'act,' if you will, or scene, or whatever you want to call it," Hoffman said. "That's kind of what you're looking for. When it's all said and done, you've still got to go out and try to do your job.

"The bottom line is you want people to have a good time, and I think they enjoyed it."

Copyright 2009, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 2, 2009

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