Timber Rattlers Notebook: Chen Slumping

APPLETON, Wisc. – Yung-Chi Chen had made a gigantic splash in the Midwest League to begin the 2005 season. Early on, Chen was among the league's leaders in RBI and batting average, and was showing a consistent glove in the field that led Rattlers players and fans alike to believe he was on the fast track to the big time.

Although that belief of bigger and better things for the Rattlers' infielder hasn't diminished; the organization has had to sit and patiently wait as the versatile Taiwanese infielder endures his first slump of the season.

Chen entered play Friday batting .261, more than 80 points below his average only a few short weeks ago. But none of this seems to bother manager Scott Steinmann.

"You know, when I write up the reports, I look at their day," the Rattlers' skipper said. "Chen hits the ball hard at least once a game, if not more. So I had a talk with him and told him not to change a thing. His hits will start finding the holes, finding gaps, and the bleeders will start to fall."

Steinmann seemed to push the luck and rhythm factor more than an error in approach.

"It seemed in the beginning of the year, everything was rolling for him," he said. "The hits were falling, and they will start falling again."

Hitting Coach Tommy Cruz mentioned a different reason for Chen's current struggles.

"He bruised his hand," Cruz noted. "So lately, when he swings, he has been defensive instead of aggressive. We just have to let it heal and get him back to being an aggressive hitter."

When asked whether or not he thought Chen was pressing or maybe approaching the plate a bit differently than he did to start he season, Cruz seemed to find no evidence.

"Physically, he has all the tools, so when a player struggles like this, you just have to maintain their positive state of mind, maintain their attitude," said the Wisconsin hitting coach.

To his credit, Chen is looking like he maybe has started turning the corner, as Thursday night he went 3-4 with a home run and 3 RBI in the Rattlers' win over Kane County. He also collected two hits in Sunday's loss to Clinton.

Whatever the root of Chen's struggles are, Rattler fans and Mariners' management may breathe a sigh of relief because the Rattlers' coaching staff doesn't seem to see anything glaringly wrong with him.

For now, all the M's can do is weather the storm because Yung-Chi Chen is only going through and learning to adapt to something every baseball player is going to experience, a droubt.

As a fan you can just cross your fingers, and hope the Rattlers infielder can make a quick turnaround from this latest funk.

With Chen, there's little denying that he'll be back. It might be tomorrow, it might be next week, but he'll be back.

Lucky 7: The seven runs scored in the ninth inning of Tuesday's game were the most runs scored by the Rattlers in one inning this season.

Not to Jinx Him… But: Reliever Craig James has still yet to allow an earned run this season. He has appeared in 14 games and thrown 16.1 innings of relief without allowing a runner to cross home plate. IT'S ALMOST JUNE!

Extra Frames: Mike Wilson hit a solo home-run in the 10th inning of Monday's game, giving Wisconsin the win and marking the third time the Rattlers have won in extra innings this season. Wisconsin is 3-2 in extra inning games.

Up Next: The Rattlers start a four-game set with Quad Cities Friday, then head to Cedar Rapids for four games before finally returning home Saturday June, 4 to host Southwest Michigan.

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