Greene making changes to get out of slump

Detroit Tigers

MILWAUKEE — Two years ago, Riley Greene once slept with his bat after going a week in Double-A Erie without an extra-base hit or RBI. The Tigers outfielder went to the same drive-thru at the same coffee shop every day during a hot streak at Triple-A Toledo that same season. He is admittedly superstitious.

So it wasn’t a big surprise when he showed up at American Family Field on Wednesday with a new look. The familiar beard was gone, shaved off. All that was left was a mustache. A 2-for-21 stretch without an extra-base hit and a rare game out of the starting lineup on Tuesday can sometimes lead to such moves.

For a moment on Wednesday afternoon, it looked like changing things up might pay off. Greene’s two-out single in the third inning wasn’t glamorous, a line drive into right field, but it moved Matt Vierling to third and created the Tigers’ first scoring threat of the afternoon. Brewers starter Freddy Peralta quashed that opportunity with a 97 mph fastball to fan Jonathan Schoop and sent Detroit on its way to a 6-2 loss.

Fourth-inning RBI knocks from Akil Baddoo and Jake Rogers accounted for Detroit’s runs. Greene grounded out in his other three at-bats for a 1-for-4 performance. He returns home for the Tigers’ upcoming seven-game homestand batting .222 (20-for-90) with two triples, two home runs, six RBIs, seven walks, 33 strikeouts and a .611 OPS.

It’s obviously not the start he wanted, but the trust in his swing is unwavering. He talked about swing thoughts in Spring Training, focusing as much or more on approach and mechanics to get line drives and create backspin and carry.

“Maybe a week or two weeks ago, there were times when I was worried about elevating the ball, and I was trying to deal with my body,” Greene said Tuesday, contorting his body to demonstrate swinging wildly upward like the old swinging Tiger logo of the 1960s.

“I was really tilting and trying to swing up and get it in the air, and that’s when I was really missing balls. Found that and I was like, ‘All right, we have to get back to normal, maybe a line drive over the shortstop’s head instead of a homer or whatever.’”

Wednesday’s line-drive single was a good example. At 108.8 mph, it was his hardest-hit ball of the season by almost a full mile per hour. Considering it came off a curveball, almost all the exit velocity was created by Greene.

Greene’s barrel percentage is up from last season, and it ranks among the top 29 percent of Major League hitters this season, according to Statcast. His average exit velocity is slightly up from last season and ranks in the top 38 percent of all hitters.

But his expected stats in batting average, slugging percentage and weighted on-base average are down from last year. Much of that comes from launch angle. He entered the season looking to lower his ground-ball rate, but so far, it’s up from 56.8 to 58.5 percent. His line-drive rate, meanwhile, has dropped 3.5 percent.

There’s obviously room for improvement, but the trick is to get there without forcing it and creating bigger issues.

“I feel like teams are going to come at me in different ways,” Greene said. “But it just comes down to not missing a mistake. I’ve been missing the mistakes. You’re not really going to get a pitch after that, that you really want to drive.

“Just like in Spring Training, I wasn’t missing anything, and then you get to here and you start missing them and, now, you have to try to just grind back into the count. I haven’t been having bad ABs. I’ve been grinding in the box. I’ve been walking a little bit. It just comes down to not missing those pitches.”

Greene is looking for those chances. His swing percentage is up from last year, both on pitches in and out of the zone. While his contact rate is down from last year on pitches inside the zone, it’s better outside the zone.

The best quality he can have right now is patience.

“It’s the game of baseball. Everyone goes through it,” he said. “I’m not too worried about it, to be honest. I mean, I’m in a good spot. I’m going to come out there with full confidence and be ready to go.”

Articles You May Like

Series Preview: Detroit Tigers at Toronto Blue Jays to open second half of season
Series Preview: Detroit Tigers at Cleveland Indians for 4-game weekday set
Blue Jays 5, Tigers 4: Put the brooms away
Dodgers To Reinstate Clayton Kershaw, Tyler Glasnow
Max Clark and Kevin McGonigle promoted to High-A West Michigan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *