Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hot-and-Cold Periods Typical for Pirates Jason Bay

Pirates outfielder Jason Bay -- in the worst slump of his career -- continued to struggle over the past week, hitting just 2-17 for an average of .118.

That's even worse than the .150 clip Bay has hit over the past six weeks, as opposing batteries continue to exploit his inability to recognize off-speed offerings. The trend has exacerbated Bay's troubles, as he has come to anticipate a steady diet of breaking pitches and change-ups, thus causing him to miss fastballs when they zoom in unexpectedly.

Still, there is no cause for alarm over the long term, as Bay historically has experienced hot-and-cold periods, though none nearly as long as this one, according to former major league pitcher and Pirates broadcaster Bob Walk.

Walk -- commenting during a recent broadcast -- suggested that sooner or later Bay once again will hit his stride, and reclaim his No. 3 or No. 4 spot in the batting order after being dropped as low as No. 6. Walk said Bay will have better results if he stops trying to pull too many pitchers down the line, and uses more of the entire field.

Bay has been one of the most feared young hitters in the National League, hitting 35 homers last year with a consistent .280-.290 average. Hopefully for the Pirates, he will not devolve into a streak hitter along the profile of Houston's Jason Lane, Philadelphia's Pat Burrell or Baltimore's Jay Gibbons, all of whose production lapses are so severe that their status as full-time players is threatened.