Nick Franklin is out of the line-up today. He’s been struggling mightily at the plate and in the field. Since July 9, there are his numbers …
To quote former Mariners beat writer Larry LaRue: Yikes!
“Nick has a day off today,” acting manager Robby Thompson said pregame. “We’ll give Nick a little rest and a little work day. He’s been struggling lately, but he’s struggling even more so from the right side.”
So Franklin gets a work day today, which isn’t a bad thing. He put in quite a bit of fielding work with Chris Woodward yesterday. It was one of the more intense pregame sessions I’ve seen from him. As for at the plate, teams are refusing to throw him fastballs. Why? He hits them and hits them well. Franklin has struggled with breaking pitches and change-ups in fastball counts. He’s not the first player to have these issues. He won’t be the last.
“When young guys get up here, you’re going to be tested to see if you can hit a fastball,” acting manager Robby Thompson said. “If you can’t, you’re going to keep getting them. Well, he’s a pretty good fastball hitter. Now all of the sudden, word gets out and they’re throwing breaking balls in fastball counts and he has not really made that adjustment yet. That should come with time.”
The struggles have seemed to sap Franklin of some that ever-present confidence that he’s had since being drafted in 2009.
“Even as confident as he was down below, he was confident up here earlier and he’s lost a little bit of that,” Thompson said. “He’s lost a little of his swagger. But he’ll get it back. He’s a young kid and it’s part of the growing pains and learning situations he’s going to have to go through.”
Baseball can do that anyone.
“This game will humble you in a hurry,” Thompson said. “Just when you think you’ve got it made up here, it can come back and bite you in a hurry and sometimes it bites you hard and long. He’s kind of finding out a little bit about that right now.”
But if you feel like giving Nick a little positive cheer – he joined twitter yesterday.
With his home run last night, Justin Smoak now has a team-high .821 on-base plus slugging, .362 wOBA (weighted on-base average) and wRC (weaighted runs created) at 132. Don’t know these stats? Well, they are all good things.
Many people have asked why he isn’t moving up to fourth or fifth in the order, especially with how much Michael Morse and Raul Ibanez have been slumping.
Smoak believes he can go back to the middle of the order and have success. But he’s just happy to be hitting and playing daily.
“I feel like I’ve always hit in the middle of the order my entire life,” he said. “It’s not a big deal to me. Last year I hit in the four spot a lot. It is what it is. We have some veteran guys in the middle of the order now, my time will come.”
Thompson just wants to keep Smoak progressing and doesn’t want to do anything that will detract from his solid approach at the plate.
“I think it’s been working and Smoak has been comfortable and he has done well there,” Thompson said. “We have talked about, do we move him up, or just leave him where he’s been, where he’s not thinking maybe I have to do even more. We’ll just keep him there where he’s done well and comfortable at and not make too many changes to it.”