Duncan Not Making Excuses

When Eric Duncan hit .362 with eight home runs in just 23 games in the Arizona Fall League last year, many people thought he had turned the corner and was primed for a breakout year in 2006. But after hitting just .209 with AAA-Columbus before finishing out the season hitting .248 with AA-Trenton, Duncan's numbers were very disappointing. Dealing with a back injury, he refuses to make excuses.

"It was definitely an interesting year," Eric Duncan told us at Instructs. "I kind of dealt with almost every aspect a year could throw at you, with struggles, and going well, and injuries. I got to experience it all this year."

"Obviously there were some things I didn't enjoy and some things I did enjoy," he continued. "It's definitely one of those years that I'll be able to look back on, learn from, and take it into the future."

While it was a sub-par season for him considering his offensive potential, a nagging back injury limited him to just 316 at-bats as he missed nearly two months this past season. Swinging a hot stick at Instructs, all systems are a go for him these days.

"The back feels good," the slugger revealed. "I've pretty much been going full-tilt since mini-camp [Instructs] started. I feel good and ready to get back on the field for the Arizona Fall League."

Even though back injuries are serious business, especially for power hitters, and it is a built-in and understandable excuse for anybody willing to go that route, Duncan refuses to put the blame for his down year on the injury.

"I'm definitely not going to make excuses for that," Duncan said if the back injury played a major role in his sub-par season. "I had my struggles, especially in the beginning of the year. Some things didn't work out for me and the injury kind of compounded it. I'm definitely not going to sit here and make excuses for myself. I didn't get it done when I needed to. I had a great opportunity this year and some things didn't work out."

One of the other possibilities for Eric Duncan's mundane season in 2006 is the Yankees perhaps pushing their young star too rapidly, sending the 21-year old to the triple-A level in just his third full minor league season.

"No not all," Duncan quickly refuted the notion that perhaps the Yankees advanced him too quickly. "Every year that I've started playing, everywhere I went I had all the confidence in my abilities. Wherever I've gone or wherever I've been playing at I thought I could be successful. The Yankees felt that way too or else they wouldn't have sent me there. So no, I've never gone to a place and felt overmatched."

"I've never gone to a place and said, 'man I wish they'd slow me down or push me back'. Everywhere I've gone I've felt capable of getting it done. It's happened in some places and it hasn't happened in other places. Everything is a learning experience in this stage in one's career. I'm going to take the positives and move on," he continued.

Duncan, the consummate professional, not only refuses to take the easy way out and make excuses for his play, he continues to have a ton of confidence despite posting a collective .235 batting average over the past two seasons.

"Definitely not," he said if his confidence has ever wavered. "If you lose confidence in this game, you're in some serious trouble. Everybody's going to go through some slumps, everybody goes through their tough times, and everybody is going to go through their great times. When you're going bad you have to believe in yourself and also realize that you're at this stage."

"Everybody that is here, whether your at rookie ball or triple-A, you're very good at what you do. There's a lot of people that haven't made it this far [professional baseball] and you have to realize that. You're doing something well enough to be here and trust your abilities whether you're going bad or going good."

With an eye towards heading out to Arizona this upcoming week for a second tour of duty in the Arizona Fall League, Duncan is getting a headstart by putting the work in during the Yankees' Instructs and he knows what he wants to accomplish.

"Definitely my consistency in all parts of my game," he revealed. "Sticking to it consistently, sticking to a plan. Having a confidence of what you're doing. You look at these guys in the big leagues and they know what they want to do every time they step into the box and step on to the field. They have a plan and execute it well. If they don't execute it well, they don't go away from it."

"They know what makes them successful and know what's needed to continue to be so good," he continued. "They don't go away from it. If they have a bad game, two bad games, you can't change your approach. You can't start to get flustered and start tinkering. You just have to trust yourself and your abilities."

Possessing make-up off the charts for such a young player, Duncan is already prepared to avoid the pitfalls some young players may endure after coming off such a disappointing year. He will not be looking to press too much in the AFL and he will still employ a patient approach to his game.

"My anticipation is - I don't want to say to make up for lost time, because I missed a good amount of time, more than I would have wanted to this year, I missed close to two months or something like that - so I'm looking to gain some at-bats, game some bat speed, and just keep improving," said Duncan. "I'm working hard with the hitting coaches down here [Instructs], working on some things and putting them to use."

Another area Duncan will be working on is improving his defensive play at first base. Missing as much time as he did in 2006, he only got to play 63 games at first base in his first full year at his new position.

"It feels great," he said of the transition to first base. "I've taken a liking to the position. I'm really starting to feel comfortable over there and I really enjoy playing over there."

Duncan did also play some third base this past year however, logging six games each at the hot corner for both Columbus and Trenton, but he says fans should not read too much into it.

"I'd imagine any future with the Yankees it would have to be," Duncan said if his permanent position is now at first base. "Alex Rodriguez is so good at what he does. His play speaks for himself. He's a sure-fire Hall of Famer and one of the best to ever play. Third base is kind of locked up for a while."

With two consecutive down years, Duncan realizes that he hasn't come close to tapping his potential as of yet. And while he doesn't make excuses for his sub-standard numbers, he thinks people who write him off as a legitimate prospect would be making a mistake.

"To the Yankee fan that is losing faith in me, I would say all of us are out here working tremendously hard," said Duncan, a Yankee fan his entire life. "A guy like Alex Rodriguez is having such an unbelievable year and still gets booed for some reason or another. He's obviously working hard. The guy cares more about what he does for his team than most of the guys out there."

"I think you have to, as a fan, and I'm a huge Yankee fan myself, you have look past the immediate of what's going on and look at what this guy really means to his team. It's just one of those things where you can't look at the surface - you've got to look at what's going on beneath it."

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n \r\n\"It was definitely an interesting year,\" Eric Duncan told us at Instructs. \"I kind of dealt with almost every aspect a year could throw at you, with struggles, and going well, and injuries. I got to experience it all this year.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"Obviously there were some things I didn't enjoy and some things I did enjoy,\" he continued. \"It's definitely one of those years that I'll be able to look back on, learn from, and take it into the future.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile it was a sub-par season for him considering his offensive potential, a nagging back injury limited him to just 316 at-bats as he missed nearly two months this past season. Swinging a hot stick at Instructs, all systems are a go for him these days.
\r\n
\r\n\"The back feels good,\" the slugger revealed. \"I've pretty much been going full-tilt since mini-camp [Instructs] started. I feel good and ready to get back on the field for the Arizona Fall League.\"
\r\n
\r\nEven though back injuries are serious business, especially for power hitters, and it is a built-in and understandable excuse for anybody willing to go that route, Duncan refuses to put the blame for his down year on the injury.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm definitely not going to make excuses for that,\" Duncan said if the back injury played a major role in his sub-par season. \"I had my struggles, especially in the beginning of the year. Some things didn't work out for me and the injury kind of compounded it. I'm definitely not going to sit here and make excuses for myself. I didn't get it done when I needed to. I had a great opportunity this year and some things didn't work out.\"
\r\n
\r\nOne of the other possibilities for Eric Duncan's mundane season in 2006 is the Yankees perhaps pushing their young star too rapidly, sending the 21-year old to the triple-A level in just his third full minor league season.
\r\n
\r\n\"No not all,\" Duncan quickly refuted the notion that perhaps the Yankees advanced him too quickly. \"Every year that I've started playing, everywhere I went I had all the confidence in my abilities. Wherever I've gone or wherever I've been playing at I thought I could be successful. The Yankees felt that way too or else they wouldn't have sent me there. So no, I've never gone to a place and felt overmatched.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"I've never gone to a place and said, 'man I wish they'd slow me down or push me back'. Everywhere I've gone I've felt capable of getting it done. It's happened in some places and it hasn't happened in other places. Everything is a learning experience in this stage in one's career. I'm going to take the positives and move on,\" he continued.
\r\n
\r\nDuncan, the consummate professional, not only refuses to take the easy way out and make excuses for his play, he continues to have a ton of confidence despite posting a collective .235 batting average over the past two seasons.
\r\n
\r\n\"Definitely not,\" he said if his confidence has ever wavered. \"If you lose confidence in this game, you're in some serious trouble. Everybody's going to go through some slumps, everybody goes through their tough times, and everybody is going to go through their great times. When you're going bad you have to believe in yourself and also realize that you're at this stage.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"Everybody that is here, whether your at rookie ball or triple-A, you're very good at what you do. There's a lot of people that haven't made it this far [professional baseball] and you have to realize that. You're doing something well enough to be here and trust your abilities whether you're going bad or going good.\"
\r\n
\r\nWith an eye towards heading out to Arizona this upcoming week for a second tour of duty in the Arizona Fall League, Duncan is getting a headstart by putting the work in during the Yankees' Instructs and he knows what he wants to accomplish.
\r\n
\r\n\"Definitely my consistency in all parts of my game,\" he revealed. \"Sticking to it consistently, sticking to a plan. Having a confidence of what you're doing. You look at these guys in the big leagues and they know what they want to do every time they step into the box and step on to the field. They have a plan and execute it well. If they don't execute it well, they don't go away from it.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"They know what makes them successful and know what's needed to continue to be so good,\" he continued. \"They don't go away from it. If they have a bad game, two bad games, you can't change your approach. You can't start to get flustered and start tinkering. You just have to trust yourself and your abilities.\"
\r\n
\r\nPossessing make-up off the charts for such a young player, Duncan is already prepared to avoid the pitfalls some young players may endure after coming off such a disappointing year. He will not be looking to press too much in the AFL and he will still employ a patient approach to his game.
\r\n
\r\n\"My anticipation is - I don't want to say to make up for lost time, because I missed a good amount of time, more than I would have wanted to this year, I missed close to two months or something like that - so I'm looking to gain some at-bats, game some bat speed, and just keep improving,\" said Duncan. \"I'm working hard with the hitting coaches down here [Instructs], working on some things and putting them to use.\"
\r\n
\r\nAnother area Duncan will be working on is improving his defensive play at first base. Missing as much time as he did in 2006, he only got to play 63 games at first base in his first full year at his new position.
\r\n
\r\n\"It feels great,\" he said of the transition to first base. \"I've taken a liking to the position. I'm really starting to feel comfortable over there and I really enjoy playing over there.\"
\r\n
\r\nDuncan did also play some third base this past year however, logging six games each at the hot corner for both Columbus and Trenton, but he says fans should not read too much into it.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'd imagine any future with the Yankees it would have to be,\" Duncan said if his permanent position is now at first base. \"Alex Rodriguez is so good at what he does. His play speaks for himself. He's a sure-fire Hall of Famer and one of the best to ever play. Third base is kind of locked up for a while.\"
\r\n
\r\nWith two consecutive down years, Duncan realizes that he hasn't come close to tapping his potential as of yet. And while he doesn't make excuses for his sub-standard numbers, he thinks people who write him off as a legitimate prospect would be making a mistake.
\r\n
\r\n\"To the Yankee fan that is losing faith in me, I would say all of us are out here working tremendously hard,\" said Duncan, a Yankee fan his entire life. \"A guy like Alex Rodriguez is having such an unbelievable year and still gets booed for some reason or another. He's obviously working hard. The guy cares more about what he does for his team than most of the guys out there.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"I think you have to, as a fan, and I'm a huge Yankee fan myself, you have look past the immediate of what's going on and look at what this guy really means to his team. It's just one of those things where you can't look at the surface - you've got to look at what's going on beneath it.\"
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