Jaxx Notes: Greenberg in Early Slump

Through their first six games, the Cubs Double-A affiliate has a combined staff ERA of 1.31 with a league low 31 hits and 11 walks allowed. Lost in the shadow of the team's strong pitching and 5-1 record has been the slow start of a few of its hitters, like Adam Greenberg.

West Tenn received another strong showing from its pitching staff on Tuesday night, beating the Tennessee Smokies, 3-1. Starter J.R. Mathes allowed one run and one hit in five innings for his first victory of the season while left-hander Clay Rapada picked up his fourth save in as many tries.

But at the plate, the Jaxx are batting just .243, which is still good for fourth best in the 10-team Southern League. (Two league affiliates -- Birmingham and Mobile -- have combined to hit below .200 as a whole.)

Micah Hoffpauir, playing in the absense of the injured Brian Dopirak at first base, picked up his second two-hit game in three nights after beginning the year 0-for-9.

And Greenberg, no stranger to Inside The Ivy and a favorite to practically anyone who has ever been surrounded by him, is off to a sluggish 3-for-20 start in right field.

Greenberg isn't to be found on any top rankings lists that are often assembled by various prospect aficionados, but he'll always have the distinction as the guy whose major league debut season consisted of one plate appearance in one game out of 162.

After experiencing the time of his life on the night he and then- Double-A teammate Matt Murton got the news that they were officially set to become the newest members of a major league roster from a Days Inn hotel in eastern Tennessee, the happiness was more short-lived for Greenberg than for Murton.

The products of two ACC schools in college, Greenberg (a ninth-round 2002 draft pick out of North Carolina) received one pitch too many to qualify for his big league debut against the Florida Marlins last July before promptly being placed on the disabled list and later sent back to Double-A.

Murton, from Georgia Tech, meanwhile continues to mold more and more into a fantasy league steal and Theo Epstein's biggest blunder of them all.

In February, Greenberg was back in the midst of the big league cesspool at the beginning of Spring Training before being designated for assignment. He found his way to the Triple-A squad, but would begin the regular season back at West Tenn.

In spite of lacking the same tools as a Murton or Felix Pie, Greenberg still does a variety of things relatively well with no one particular area visibly stronger than another. He runs well, plays good defense, generally hits well for average and can bunt his way on base to stay out of prolonged hitting slumps.

Whatever is the cause of Greenberg's sluggish start out of the gate this season, it isn't because of the fastball to the head he was given by Florida's Valerio de los Santos in Miami last summer.

"It happened and it was what it was," Greenberg said. "I'm 100 percent recovered and just really looking forward to what's to come later this year."

Greenberg's major league debut last season lasted quicker than he would have liked. (AP Photo/Steve Mitchell)

The incident did take some brief time to recover from nonetheless. Greenberg was sent to Mesa, Ariz., for tests following de los Santos' welcome present and was found to be suffering from Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, or "BPPV," an inner ear problem that brings on bouts of dizziness without prior warning.

He wasn't out of action long and returned late in July to Double-A, but batted just .250 the rest of the way. He closed the season with a .269 average, his lowest season total to date since his professional career began three years earlier.

When the Southern League playoffs wrapped up, Greenberg traveled to Venezuela for the start of Winter League action. There, he batted .262 in 43 games before beginning his regular off-season workout regime to get prepared for the start of Spring Training.

When Cubs camp finally opened and exhibition play began, Greenberg was up at 5:45 a.m. every morning, finding breakfast before heading to the field and working in batting cages of a morning, then a two-hour practice and a 1:00 p.m. game.

After that, it was back to the weight room for strength and conditioning exercises before a 9 p.m. bedtime and another early riser the following day.

"I never had to change my approach after the incident," Greenberg said. "I didn't have to work on any one thing specifically this spring other than my overall game. I spent a lot of time working on bunting to first and third and going the other way with the bat, just staying on top of the ball to get my timing down. I wasn't slowed down at all."

Nor is Greenberg fretting the slow start in 2006.

"You just make the most out of every day," he said. "Wherever you are, it's work, work and more work before you realize that eventually it all will pay off and get you back to where you want to be."

E-mail Steve Holley: staff@insidetheivy.com.

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