KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Didi Gregorius and Aaron Boone have company in believing the shortstop hasn’t been quite as bad in recent weeks as the numbers suggest.
“Even when he isn’t going good, he still puts together a quality at-bat,” said one opposing team talent evaluator. “You’ve seen it. He’s making good contact for the most part. Not seeing a lot different in the at-bats than April.”
In April, of course, Gregorius looked like an MVP candidate. The 28-year-old won AL Player of the Month honors after producing a .330/.422/.739 slash line, with a ridiculous OPS of 1.161. He hit 10 homers and with 30 RBIs in 25 April games.
But the bottom dropped out.
Shortly after collecting a total of five hits over three games May 1-3 against the Astros, Gregorius went hitless in 30 at-bats, part of a 1-for-41 slide he takes into a three-game series against the Royals Friday night. The gaudy .327/.421/.735 slash line and 1.156 OPS Gregorius ended April with stands at .255/.343/.537/.880.
“It’s tough,” Gregorius said. “It’s going to happen. When you play the game there’s always ups, there’s always downs. With the downs you don’t want them to beat you. It’s just a learning process. That’s how I look at it.”
Gregorius said pitchers aren’t approaching him much differently than they did in April and he doesn’t feel different in the batter’s box.
So his theory on his struggles?
“To be honest I do not know because I’m still hitting the ball hard,” Gregorius said. “[When] I hit the ball hard, it’s right at somebody and there’s nothing I can do about that. I’m trying to make good contact every time I go up there and the results are not always going to be there.”
Boone, like the scout, mentioned the amount of contact Gregorius continues to make. In this current 1-for-41, Gregorius has struck out five times and he has just one strikeout in his last 22 at-bats.
“I think if you look back at a lot of games of late, there’s been two or three times in a game where he’s really stung the ball,” Boone said. “So while I know he’s going through a tough stretch right now, I certainly don’t believe it’s as bad as the not getting hits, because I feel there’s been a fair amount of good contact in there.”
Which isn’t to say Gregorius is pleased with this stretch.
“I’m not happy with the at-bats because I’m not helping the team,” Gregorius said.
He has been in similar slumps before. Gregorius referenced a 3-for-40 stretch in 2014 while with the Diamondbacks and, though he didn’t say it, he could even go back to his first season with the Yankees, in 2015, when he got off to a 5-for-35 start to the season.
“You still have to approach the game the same way, you have to go day by day, don’t change anything and just try and get better,” Gregorius said of dealing with slumps. “This is a game of failure and that’s what you can learn from. And when you accept that that you’re not going to get a base hit every time, it’s more manageable than try to [do too much].”
If the rough period is getting to Gregorius, one of the clubhouse leaders, he’s hiding it well. He remains as sociable as ever with teammates, a smile always at the ready.
“From a makeup standpoint, he’s great,” Boone said. “He loves to play, he’s tough, he’s prepared, and he deals with all that baseball throws at you, and baseball’s going to throw some bumps in the road at you. You’re going to have occasional bumps in the road over the course of the season and I think he’s handled it great.”