With struggles evident in the first half of the season, Abraham Almonte experienced another hardship in the 2010 season with Tampa. He suffered a torn labrum in his right throwing shoulder which required surgery.
He played in only 15 games in 2010 but entered Spring Training feeling at full health and ready to play baseball again.
Then entered the 2011 season where he found struggles at the plate. Carrying a low .210 batting average and a .275 on base percentage, Almonte knows that a slow start to the season has happened to him before.
"It could be a regular slow start," Almonte said when asked about why he struggled early in the season. "It happened to me two years ago in Charleston but after the slow start I got on a 27-game hitting streak and everything turned out well after that."
With his slow start evident for Almonte, Tampa hitting coach Justin Turner realized his struggles but also noticed Almonte's positive work ethic and attitude during his slide.
"[Abe] maintained great focus every day and brought a positive attitude to the field every single day. He highly impressed me how he carried himself through his struggles," said Turner.
Turner believes that Almonte was struggling due to the fact that he wasn't getting that good pitch to hit. He also stated that when players are in hitting funks they try to hit any ball in the field to get a hit and break out of their slumps, and Almonte fell into that category.
While Almonte's struggles at the plate were carried into mid-May, the past ten games for him have turned into a direction where the 21-year old player would like to continue going. He is sporting an impressive .359 batting average while also piling up 14 hits and ten runs scored in his 39 at-bats during that time.
Whether it is good luck or better mechanics, Almonte is happy to be hitting the ball again and has hit the ball where he needs to be hitting it.
"I think I'm catching good luck," said a smiling Almonte. "A couple weeks ago I couldn't get a base hit but I thought I had a good swing on the ball. Now, I'm continuing to hit the ball hard but I'm finding the holes and gaps this time."
Almonte had his eight-game hit streak, which got the attention of the coaches, snapped on Saturday. Still, changes have been made to the way he is attacking pitches and it has been noticed.
"He's attacking good pitches again and not trying to force the issue," Turner said. "He's getting back to being aggressive, but aggressive on good pitches to hit."
Although Almonte is not the only player to be struggling for Tampa, Turner realizes how important Almonte really is to the Yankees lineup, and team.
"It really seems like when [Abe] goes, we go," Turner said when asked about what Almonte brings to the Yankees lineup. "When he started hitting more, you saw our guys have more life. He's kind of like a spark plug for us."
With a healthy and streaking Almonte in the Yankees lineup, focus and attention to move up to the next level isn't always a main priority, but a goal that stays evident for Almonte.
"I try to go out every day and play as hard as I can while believing in all my abilities," Almonte said. "I try to believe in my hitting, defense and running, and at the same trying to put all three aspects together."
Almonte Starting To Hit A Groove
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