Patience a key in breaking slumps at the plate

Jul. 03, 2014 @ 10:12 PM

 Streaks can run hot and cold but Elliot Soto, who has put together both this summer, said it’s important not to be distracted by the present.

“It’s baseball,” Soto said. “You want to stay even. You don’t want to get too up, too down. When you’re going good you just try to ride it out and keep that same approach into the next one.”

The infielder is one of the hottest Tennessee Smokies at the plate right now, batting .423 over his last seven games for the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. He began this season batting just .133 in his first 23 games before finding his current groove. That’s the kind of turnaround teammate Dustin Geiger would like to make after going hitless four times in his last 10 games.

“It’s kind of frustrating but at the same time it’s all part of the game,” Geiger said after going 1 for 4 in Wednesday’s 7-0 win over Montgomery. “It’s all part of the process of getting to the big leagues. You’re going to struggle at times. It’s all about how you work and how you can get out of it.”

Both Geiger and Soto said the key is not getting discouraged. The best-hit balls don’t always find grass, like the one Geiger made solid contact with to center early in Wednesday’s victory. He later singled to third for his only hit of the game.

Both players said it’s important to “stay the course” and work through the kinds of struggles they’ve faced at different times this season. Players have to be confident that, eventually, they’ll get those hits.

“He had two good at-bats and it’s hard to get more than two a night,” said Tennessee manager Buddy Bailey. “As long as he keeps with that approach and he gets in two quality at-bats a night, you can’t control where it goes off the bat. All you can control is putting in a good at-bat and that’s what he did a couple times tonight.”

Bailey said Geiger had a really good batting practice before the game. The 22-year-old, who was selected out of Merritt Island (Fla.) High School in 2010, said he’s been working on a simpler, quieter approach at the plate. 

He’s trying to recapture what worked so well for him early this season. Geiger had two five-game hit streaks in April and recorded five multi-hit games. He hasn’t had more than a hit in a game since June 13, though, and is batting .167 over the last week.

It’s a lot like the struggles Soto had to battle through earlier this season.

“It’s like, ‘Man, what can I do? Can I do anything else?’ “ Soto said. “It’s just mind games. You’ve got to tell yourself it’s going to come.”

Geiger hopes that time will be soon with a little more work and a mental reminder of what worked so well back in April. 

“It’s something you don’t want to be in very long,” Geiger said. “Just try to keep doing the right thing, try to get in the gym, in the batting cage and try to tinker around a little bit. Get everything to where you think it should be.”