Gumbs Powers Through Struggles

CHARLESTON, SC— Frustrated with the numbers he has been putting up this season, Angelo Gumbs knew a change needed to be made. This season the 21-year old has hit four home runs, posted a batting average of .235 and has 24 RBIs since his demotion from high-A Tampa.

"Yes, I have been frustrated," Gumbs admitted. "But you have to understand that you're not going to succeed every round and you're going to go through dry spots. It has really allowed me to understand the game more. I just need to keep working hard everyday and hope that everything will come together."

Gumbs knows he can do better. Although he missed the final months of the 2012 season with the RiverDogs, the 6-foot righty finished his season with seven home runs, 36 RBIs and a batting average of .272. Recently, Gumbs reminisced on how he almost broke .300 that season, and still obtains that goal for himself this year.

"I want to bat close to around .300," Gumbs remarked. "I want to hit somewhere around ten home runs and steal some more bases."

Gumbs' aggravation with his game comes late in the season, although the second baseman openly admits that it just goes along with the job description of being a professional baseball player.

"It has not gone the way I wanted it to," Gumbs explained. "I just think it is apart of baseball. You are going to have times when you struggle and it is just about getting back up and getting on track.

"I need to just get it all back together. My defense has gone great this year. My hitting, I just need to figure it out and work really hard to get it back to where I once was."

The California native has been working with RiverDogs' hitting coach P.J. Pilittere on how he can improve his overall approach at the plate. Gumbs is determined that the work he and his coach are doing together will only increase his batting average.

"P.J. has been giving me great words of advice," Gumbs said. "He has been telling me to be more patient, stay back and get a better pitch that I can hit.

"We have been working on keeping my hips closed and getting good pitches to hit. Also, base running and setting my feet to throw more on defense."

According to the second-year RiverDog, Gumbs says there are major differences in his game since last year.

"The biggest difference is that I am better at defense this year than I was last year," Gumbs noted. "My hitting last year was better but I wasn't as fundamentally sound. Last year when I would go up there I would hit everything.

"It didn't matter whether it was a good pitch or not/ This year I am being more selective and I have other things I am working on as well."

Despite his injury in the final months of the 2012 season, he was still among the top Yankees prospects coming into this year. Gumbs acknowledged that it was a huge honor to be recognized. By being named one of the Yankees' top prospects, Gumbs has used the recognition as a source of motivation for himself to perform better even as the season comes to a close.

RiverDogs manager Al Pedrique has been impressed with Gumbs resiliency as a second baseman. He also confessed how he wants Gumbs to relax more when it comes to approaching the plate.

"We keep telling him he needs to stay positive," Pedrique commented. "He needs to slow down a little bit and take one day at a time.

"I know his frustration is coming from the fact he got sent down a couple months ago and he wants to prove to the organization that he can play at a higher level. So he has put a lot of pressure on himself early, he just needs to relax a little more, enjoy the game more and have some fun and let things just happen.

"I think he has done a fine job. Offensively he is searching right now and trying to find his swing. Lately he has been trying to swing a little bit longer, but when he stays inside the ball and swings a lot shorter then he can drive the ball."

Pedrique says the key to Gumbs performing better is all in the way he approaches every game. The RiverDogs manager has set goals for his second baseman and has confidence that he will accomplish them in a timely manner.

"My goal personally is for him to have more fun," Pedrique exclaimed. "Be more consistent, whether it is offense, defense or base running, and try to improve his game awareness. He needs to be in the right spot in the right time. He needs to be consistent and fundamentally sound when playing the game."

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