West Mich MLN: Hitting Woes, Plus Turner

Baseball, like many things, has a tendency to be cyclical. The Whitecaps are hoping that their recent slump can be attributed to that phenomenon. The team has posted a pedestrian 1-5 record in the last week, moving them to 6-12 on the season and putting the team in the bottom half of the Midwest League.

'Caps manager Joe DePastino notes that, while hitting has been an issue this season, it is not something to put too much worry into.

"Hitting has been bad," DePastino said following the team's 1-5 loss to South Bend on Sunday. "But through the course of a season, teams always go through slumps. They aren't going to hit like this all year: they're going to get out of it sooner or later."

There is no doubt that the offense has struggled early. West Michigan is in the bottom four in the league in hits (142), runs (56), RBI (46), and average (.235). This amid a pitching staff that is doing fairly well, holding opponents to three runs or less in three of five games in the past week.

Where some pitchers would start to be negative about a lack of good hitting to back them up on the mound, DePastino said that his staff knows better.

"The pitchers know not to say anything to the hitters, because it's going to reverse itself throughout the season, and they know that," DePastino said. "They're probably going to hit a slump when the hitters are hitting well, too. So it's going to work both ways."

One offensive bright spot this season has been CF Jamie Johnson, who leads the team in almost every offensive category. In the Midwest League, Johnson currently ranks eighth in hits (21), fifth in OPB (.455), and eleventh in average (.333).

Some concern was made over Tigers 2009 first round draft pick, RHP Jacob Turner (0-0, 1.00), being scratched from his last start. DePastino assured that it was simply a precaution.

"Turner just had a little stiffness in his forearm," DePastino said. "About as minor as it can get."

Despite the lack of winning for the 'Caps the season, DePastino has manged to keep morale up in the clubhouse.

"The attitude in the clubhouse is great," DePastino said. "The guys have to play the game hard, and they do, but you still need to have fun. If you're struggling and not having fun, you're going to be struggling for a while."

The road does not get too much easier for West Michigan, who has a three-game home series against the Lansing Lugnuts (11-7) that starts today, followed by a road series against the South Bend team who just swept the 'Caps at home.

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