Abraham Almonte said it wasn’t so much his swing that cost him his place with the Seattle Mariners. It was his comfort level.
Since his demotion to the Rainiers he has been working to regain the comfort and confidence that helped him hit .314 in 94 games with Tacoma last season before being called up to Seattle in September.
“I think that’s what got me in trouble in the big leagues was just losing confidence and trying to be somebody that is not me,” Almonte said. “As soon as I get comfortable again, and I can trust in what I got and play my game, I think I’ll be all right.”
Almonte has hit .333 (12-for-36) his past nine games with the Rainiers.
Rainiers manager Roy Howell said the first thing Almonte said to him after being sent down from Seattle on May 4 was, ‘I got to work, work and work.’
Specifically, Howell said Almonte is learning to adjust to pitchers’ adjustments. He said Almonte has been working with hitting coach Cory Snyder daily.
“At the big-league level, they make adjustments on hitters really quick, so you have to make your adjustments right back,” Howell said. “That’s what he is working hard on here – making those adjustments. They aren’t going to pitch you the same way, so you have to see how they are trying to get you out and that is what Almonte is working on.”
Almonte hit leadoff for the Mariners to start the season, despite a batting average of .173 in 73 at-bats in spring training. He was a virtual unknown with the Rainiers last season, despite being arguably the Rainiers best and most consistent all-around player, possessing a .403 on-base percentage with 11 home runs, 50 RBIs and 20 stolen bases.
“When you don’t feel comfortable at the plate, you aren’t going to see the pitches you normally crush,” Almonte said. “You don’t swing at them because you don’t recognize the pitch. The pitcher is going to come right at you and you feel a little bit frustrated when you don’t do what you normally do.
“But I just have to stay patient and keep working. I’ve done this before, so I can handle it again.”
Almonte hit .198 in 26 games with the Mariners. He’s batting .250 since joining the Rainiers, but has turned it on of late and said that has come with comfort.
“He’s a good guy, and the thing few people realize is that it is a tough thing to handle – you start the year in the big leagues and as the leadoff hitter and a month later you are sent down,” Howell said. “That’s not easy to handle. But for him to get back and stay back, he’s got to be consistent here and take it there and be consistent there.”
Said Almonte: “In general, I’m just trying to regain my confidence. And I know that is going to help me. As soon as I start to feel comfortable and do the things I know I can do, it’s going to be a lot more easy for me.”