Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Updated: July 26, 8:37 AM ET
Josh Hamilton discusses struggles
By Richard Durrett
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Wearing a Roy Hobbs "Knights" jersey as he walked in the clubhouse, Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton said he respects CEO and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan's opinion and that his plan is to try to be more focused and patient at the plate in an effort to climb out of his slump.
Ryan said Monday on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Galloway and Company that "there's a lot of those at-bats that he (Hamilton) just gives away" and that the outfielder didn't "seem to be locked in at all."
"I love and respect Nolan to death," Hamilton said. "He's a competitor. He's still a competitor and was a big-time competitor. I believe he cares so much for us as players, almost like a grandfather would, that when he sees us not performing or doing the things we need to do, it frustrates him.
"I understand why it frustrates him. I can't blame him for anything. I have to keep doing what I can do, working on what I can work on, go up there and try to be a little more focused and patient and do the best I can."
Hamilton, who said he believes he's getting ready to turn things around, said he feels "out of sorts mentally."
"Usually you get into trouble when you start thinking about stuff," Hamilton said. "It's the mental aspects more than the physical. That's where I think I am right now."
Hamilton hit just .223 in June and is batting .161 in July going into Wednesday's series finale against the Boston Red Sox. His struggles have dropped his average to .290 after a torrid start that included AL Player of the Month honors in April and May.
He has 28 homers and 81 RBIs this season, but he's hit just seven homers since June 1 with 24 RBIs. He had 39 strikeouts the first two months of the season, but has 53 since June.
Hamilton's frustration boiled over after he hit a grounder past the mound in the sixth inning of Tuesday's 2-1 loss to the Red Sox. The skimmer did score the Rangers' only run of the game, but he wasn't happy with the at-bat. He threw his batting helmet toward the bin for helmets and bats in the dugout and clearly was upset.
"I am human," Hamilton said. "No matter how mad you are or if you break something or throw something, it's not going to change the fact of what happened or make anything better. It snowballs."
Hamilton said he's started some different drills with hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh the past few days that he used to do last year. He said the staff put together a three-minute video of some of his highlights from earlier in the season and he didn't see any mechanical changes he needed to make.
Hamilton knows the adjustments must come from his head, where he admits he has to recognize pitches better, stay patient and not be afraid to hit balls the other way.
"When I'm swinging at pitches out of the zone and I'm hitting them, it's no big deal," Hamilton said. "But when I'm swinging at them and missing them, it's a big deal. (I need to) focus on bringing the pitchers back to having to throw me strikes or at least something close enough that I can do something with.
"They all know they can throw me questionable pitches and more than likely I'll swing at them. When I'm going good, they can do that and I get hits. When I'm not going good, I get myself out. It's understanding what kind of game plan they're going to have and what it is and trusting myself, trusting I don't have to create anything or get in an overly ready position to hit."
Hamilton said he's been able to block out any thoughts of his contract status and pending free agency after this season and didn't use that as an excuse for his poor showing.
"It's more frustrating for me because I want to perform for my teammates and help them," Hamilton said. "I want all the fans to come out and have a good time and I want to entertain them. It's frustrating, but I'm not going to throw my helmet. I'm not going to cuss at umpires because that's not who I am."
Hamilton admits that he does lose concentration sometimes during the game.
"I definitely lose focus at times. It doesn't matter what you're doing or how
much you love to do something, it becomes a grind," Hamilton said. "But I do care. I don't go out there and go through the motions. I try to play hard."