It isn’t effort and a rival evaluator doesn’t believe Adam LaRoche’s extended struggles are due to his age, either.
The bat speed and the swing put forth by the White Sox designated hitter isn’t noticeably different than it has been in the past, a National League scout said. But unlike any time in his career, LaRoche hasn’t been able to solve his slump this season and it hasn’t been easy for him to endure. LaRoche -- who is in the first season of two-year, $25-million contract -- entered Wednesday’s game with a .221/.319/.366 slash line with nine home runs and 33 RBIs in 335 plate appearances this season.
“I’m sure I’ve had (a previous) time ‘This is baffling, the worst it’s ever been,’” LaRoche said. “But yeah, it’s confusing, frustrating and you think you’ve figured it out for an at-bat or two, and then it’s gone. In the past I’ve been able to figure it out and then hold onto it for a while. You just keep going and keep pushing.”
Perhaps the most alarming aspect of LaRoche’s slump is his increased strikeout rate: the 35-year-old has struck out 28.7 percent of the time. LaRoche’s career rate is 22.2 percent and he’s coming off an outstanding 2014 campaign when he whiffed in only 18.4 percent of his at-bats.
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White Sox manager Robin Ventura has had trouble pinpointing why LaRoche has struggled, too.
“You’re always looking at a guy that has been in the league this long and you can’t put your finger on it,” Ventura said. “It can be a slight mechanical thing -- and that’s not having seen him really in the past so you can look at video all you want but sometimes you look at something, throw it at him, an idea or mechanical thing. He might not be seeing it very well. The combination of those can be tough.”
LaRoche is determined to find his way out of a slump that extends back to June 12. Since that time, LaRoche has a .175/.237/.262 slash line with a homer and nine RBIs in 114 plate appearances. He isn’t alone in that the entire White Sox offense has struggled this season. But that doesn’t make what he has endured any easier for LaRoche to handle.
“You keep swinging and you keep working,” LaRoche said. “There’s only so much video you can watch, only so many things you can go back and look at that you think might have been different in the past. The fact is you just have to get in the box and be confident, expect good things to happen. I’ve always said, ‘If you expect bad things to happen, they’re more likely to happen. If you expect good things to happen, it’s more likely to happen.’”