By Shannon Drayer
Lloyd McClendon had an interesting meeting with the media this morning and before that I had a chance to briefly chat with Jack Zduriencik. Their thoughts on a few matters. McClendon first.
On giving Nick Franklin his first big league start in the outfield:
"I'm trying to get a spark, he's a bat and hopefully he will go out and get 3 or 4 hits."
"Nick played the outfield. He's not a neophyte in the outfield. I think he probably just needs to get that first fly ball out of the way and then he will be fine. I think he will get better in time. I was a catcher and I converted to the outfield if I can play the outfield then anyone can play there because I couldn't run worth a damn. These guys are a lot more athletic than I was. They put the proper amount of time in work-wise, they will be fine. They will get it done."
On moving Ackley back to the 8th spot in the order:
"I was just trying to get a spark. It didn't work, I was wrong with it, I tried. I like him in the 8 spot, I probably should have left him in the 8 spot because he is doing very well down there. I'm going to do it my way, he's going back to the 8 spot."
"Right now I am going to leave him there and let him flourish there just like I am going to leave Zunino at the bottom of the order and let him flourish and continue to have success. We will see how it goes in the second half of the season but for right now I think that is the right thing to do."
On what he saw from Ackley hitting 2nd:
"Nothing different than anyone else, just real bad at bats. Trying to do too much. When you are struggling that's what happens."
"I tried to take a little pressure off Miller as well. Hopefully I think he is over the hump and back on course."
In light of the struggles he sees from Erasmo Ramirez, is he considering making a change"
"Yeah, I would say that is a fair assessment. I am not sure what we are going to do as of right now, but yeah."
Does a lot of that depend on how Hisashi Iwakuma comes out of his rehab start:
On what he has seen from Dominic Leone:
"A very dominating young man. Probably pitched more than I would have liked him to pitch at this point because of the circumstances with our starting rotation but I think he's got a very bright future. And I think he is going to be a late inning guy very, very soon."
Progress reports on Taijuan Walker and James Paxton:
"Taijuan has been cleared to play catch starting Monday, Paxton on (this) Friday."
On the current struggle:
"It's challenging for everybody but I do think you have to put it in perspective. No one wants it to happen but it is a logical evolution if you will, you lost a lot of pitchers. We have a whole group who are not even here with us and it's hard. It's hard when you were going to be competitive and you ve got all your cards on the table and all of a sudden pieces start falling apart. What happens I think is there's added pressure, guys get out of who they are and they want to do to do more. And it is a hard thing to tell guys just be who you are, stay the course."
How does the loss of starting pitching affect the hitting:
"I think there is a reason for it because I think it starts to creep up on you. I think hitters with what I have seen just recently is they are expanding the zone. They are getting out of, we were grinding out at bats in spring training, early in the year we were grinding out at bats. I think right now what's happening is you are trying to do too much you are trying to be the guy to help the club. As a result you swing at a pitch that is 4 inches off the plate, it's tougher to hit. We will get them back together but for some of them there is this youthful exuberance that you have to understand how to control it and at this moment I think a lot of them are searching for that."
On the reaction from many fans that there is a bat that is available out there (Kendrys Morales):
"There is no doubt, but I can't control that. We've done what we could do and every club has limitations. I can't focus on what isn't here, I can only focus on what is here. When you are at your limit there is not much that you can do. This is our club, let's go play baseball."
On believing this group can get this turned around:
"It's a small sample size. Unfortunately it is a time of year you would really love to be able to come out guns blazing and I think we did early but then a few mistakes here, a few at bats here, a couple injuries here, and a bad game here, and it looks bad. and I understand that but I do think what you have to do is have confidence in these guys and let them know, hey you're our guys. We have seen too many good things out of you and too much potential and too much history with some of our older players as well, that it's going to get better and when it gets better its going to get better in a hurry. That's the attitude I think we have to take."