Hitless Polanco works on stroke
Opening slump forces .305 hitter to tinker with mechanics
DETROIT -- For almost any other hitter, 0-for-10 is a run-of-the-mill slump. For Placido Polanco, it seems longer.
After Wednesday's 0-for-4 performance kept him hitless on the season, the Tigers' second baseman went to the batting cage and took some cuts with a different bat. Polanco finished third in the American League in hitting last season, then batted .435 with six extra-base hits and numerous hard-hit outs this spring. Right now, however, he does not feel comfortable.
It's not simply the outs. It's the way he's making contact. Polanco flew out to right, lined out to right and popped out to third in his first three at-bats Wednesday before striking out to end the game. He had three groundouts and three outs in the air on Monday.
Some of those have been hard line drives hit right at fielders. Still, those are six outs in the air out of 10 at-bats, and that's abnormal for Polanco, who has had no less than a 1.67 ratio of ground balls to fly balls in each of his 10 Major League seasons.
"I need to get more on top [of the ball]," Polanco said. "I never recall myself hitting that many fly balls. When I make outs, they're usually ground balls or maybe more on a line. It's weird. Such little things can make a big difference.
"I'm hitting the ball on the barrel, but I'm getting under it and hitting it in the air."
The 0-for-10 skid is the longest hitless streak Polanco has had to start a season. He had longer hitless streaks last season, most recently the first week of last September. However, he went hitless in back-to-back games just three times over the final three months of last season.
It's a statistical oddity, but not really a worry yet.
"We all get spoiled," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He's the least of my worries, really."
It's not that Polanco is panicking, either. But he's working.
"I have to make some adjustments and some changes," Polanco said. "I mean, that's what this game's all about. Pitching, maybe baserunning, hitting, defending, you know? When things aren't going good, you want to change."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.