SEATTLE – It was a swing Oswaldo Arcia hopes to repeat frequently the rest of the season.
With runners on first and second Sunday, Arcia recognized David Robertson’s slider and was able to lift it over the infield and into right field for an RBI single.
“I was thinking, ‘maybe no fastball,’ ” Arcia said. “I was ready for the slider and he threw the slider.”
Arcia didn’t overswing, taking a nice smooth cut that produced results. If he is going to climb out of the hole he is in right now, he is going to have to take better at-bats, like he did on his ninth-inning RBI single in the Twins’ 9-7 loss to the Yankees on Sunday.
Don’t be mistaken, the burly Arcia can hit baseballs a long way. But the 23-year-old is trying to repair his season, so he is cutting down on the murderous swings for now.
He needed to. He was 2-for-4 Sunday, his first multi-hit game since June 11. And he added two more hits Monday, going 2-for-3 with a double in the Twins’ 2-0 loss to the Mariners. But in the 19 games between June 11 and Sunday, he batted .127 with one home run and four RBI, and Twins manager Ron Gardenhire sat him down a few games, worried that his young hitter was getting too frustrated.
“You can work as hard as you want to, but you’re still going to be frustrated if you don’t see any results,” Gardenhire said. “We need his confidence to rising and get some hit. To put a couple balls on the grass in the outfield is huge. It shows his hard work is starting to pay off.”
Arcia was one of a handful of players on the field before Monday night’s game against Seattle for extra batting practice. He has been working with hitting coach Tom Brunansky to hold his hands higher, the belief being that it will help him get the bat head out with a more level swing than he had during his slump.
While swinging an air bat, Arcia said: “When my hands are down, my swing is up. I work every day with Bruno. I feel good and see the ball better.”
Arcia debuted last season, batting .251 with 14 home runs and 43 RBI. The Twins hoped he would take a leap forward this season, but that leap landed him on the disabled list because of a right wrist sprain that cost him 33 games. He had some success once he rejoined the lineup, but he went into a tailspin the second half of June.
After his two hits Monday, he is batting .224 with five home runs and 18 RBI in 41 games. But for a team that needs offense badly, Arcia has failed to carry his weight.
“When you start chasing balls out of the zone and they start working you over and start carving people up then you start losing confidence,” Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said. “All Arcia has to do is get a pitch he can handle.”
Ryan has worried about Arcia keeping his confidence up and believes going back to some of the basics will help him turn his season around.
“I can see him swinging himself out of the funk as long as he addresses the strike zone and handles the strike zone,” Ryan said. “He’s not going to swing himself out of the mess without swinging at strikes.
“As with any hitter, you gotta swing at strikes it you expect to hit for average, on base percentage and all that stuff. [And] there nothing wrong with a walk.”