July 21, 2014 in Sports

MLB notes: Shin Soo-Choo stuck in slump

From Wire Services
 
Associated Press photo

Shin-Soo Choo has struggled in the first year of his $130 million contract with the last-place Rangers.
(Full-size photo)

By the numbers

13: Tom Seaver holds the modern A.L. single-season record with 13 straight starts of seven or more innings and two or fewer runs. Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez has 12.

0: The San Diego Padres have thrown zero no-hitters in their 46-year history. Odrisamer Despaigne was four outs short of their first on Sunday.

The answers come only after long, sometimes painful, pauses.

That’s because Shin Soo-Choo is as lost trying to describe what’s happened to him at the plate this year as he is at trying to actually fix what has happened to him at the plate.

“This has been going on two months,” Choo said after going hitless in four at-bats in the Rangers’ 4-1 loss to Toronto on Saturday. “Two months. It feels almost like nine years. I’m not frustrated by the numbers. I’m frustrated because nothing is getting better. I feel great. I practice good. I feel great getting into the batter’s box, and then … nothing happens.”

On Saturday, that was the case again. His 0-for-4 day extended his hitless streak to 21 at-bats, the longest of his career. His batting average dropped to .236 for the year, nearly 50 points lower than his career average entering the season. And on top of that, he’s not supplementing his on-base percentage with walks. He’s taken just one in that stretch.

Manager Ron Washington feels Choo’s pain. Before Friday’s second-half opener, he called the outfielder into his office to ask first about the ankle that has bothered him most of the year. Choo assured him the ankle is as good as it has been since he sprained it in April.

Washington, who believes Choo has pressed too hard to live up to the $130 million, seven-year contract he was given last winter, then tried to deliver a little sports psychology.

The short version of the message is the same as what he’s delivered to the team: Don’t worry about rescuing the season; focus on simply getting better.

“He just needs to relax and play baseball,” Washington said Saturday. “I think he believes he’s letting people down. And he’s not. It happens.”

Clearing the bases

Outfielder Yasiel Puig was not in the Dodgers starting lineup against St. Louis, one day after getting hit on his left hand by a pitch. Puig will undergo a second round of X-rays today. … Astros outfielder George Springer did not play in the series finale against the White Sox because of soreness in his right quad and right knee. … Giants first baseman Brandon Belt will go on either the seven-day or 15-day disabled list because of a concussion. Belt was struck by a ball in the face while fielding during batting practice Saturday. … MLB batting leader Troy Tulowitzki was out of the Rockies’ lineup against the Pirates, a day after hurting a leg. He is listed as day-to-day.


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