Is the Loons' Offense on the Rebound?

The good news is that the Great Lakes Loons seem to be emerging from their offensive struggles that have plagued them the second half. Outfielder Andrew Lambo has returned to the lineup after a minor injury kept him sidelined for a few games and newly signed Brandon Taylor has already hit two home runs despite being with the team for only a week.

Nevertheless, infielder Brian Matthews' offensive performance is far removed from that he displayed after joining the Loons late in the second half of the 2007 season. Preston Mattingly leads the team in strikeouts and has been struggling to connect with those outside breaking pitches that pitches throw him with two strikes.

Hitting coach Garey Ingram is not the least bit concerned. "Nothing is going wrong right now," Ingram remarked. "We just got a few guys right now that are pressing."

One thing that Ingram emphasized was the fragile state of a player's confidence at this early stage in professional baseball. And there is a lot of truth in the statement.

As Inland Empire outfielder Trayvon Robinson told me a year ago, many of these players dominated the game at the high school and college level and the professional ranks are the first place where many of them experience more sometimes more failure than success.

With the talent pool more balanced, Robinson said that the mental game become increasingly important and those players more adept at handling adversity tend to much better than those who do not.

"We're working on getting the guys a little more confidence," Ingram said. "At this level, if they lose their confidence, players tend to go downhill pretty quickly."

According to Ingram, one of the keys is that the Loons continue to work on and develop their situational hitting, such as capitalizing on runners in scoring position. Because the Loons do not have a lot of offensive power, the ability to play small ball successfully is increasingly important.

Of course, the key to getting out of a hitting slump for Ingram is simple. When players are struggling at the plate, it is often because they are swinging at the pitcher's pitch instead of being patient and waiting for those occasions when the pitcher will make a mistake.

With the return of Lambo, the team's leading offensive contributor, it will be interesting to see how the Loon's offense is bolstered by his presence in the coming weeks. After putting six runs on the board against Lansing on Saturday, there does seem to be some indication that the team is overcoming its offensive rut. However, the lack of offensive punch has been an recurring theme for this team the entire season.

"You can only teach them so much," manager Juan Bustabad said. "After that, they are on their own."

LA Dodgers Insider Top Stories