Posted at 11:15 AM on May 27, 2006
by David Zingler
It’s Opening Day in Toronto. Rondell White steps into the batter’s box for the first time as a Minnesota Twin in the top of the 1st. With runners on first and third and one out, the team’s new clean-up hitter promptly swats a laser to dead centerfield...going...going...not quite, it is picked out of the sky by the Jays Vernon Wells - Torii Hunter style. What looked like a three-run homer turns into a run scoring sacrifice fly.
“That’s how it’s been all year,” White explained. “The first at bat of the season, you want to make good contact. I did hit it hard right at somebody, but I’ve done that a lot this year. I guess it was a sign, right from day one, (but) things are going to get better.”
White entered this season a .289 career hitter averaging a homerun every 26.3 at-bats. As of May 26, his batting average stood at .197 and he had yet to homer in 152 at-bats. What has happened to Rondell White?
“(I’ve never been through anything) like this,” the Georgia native admitted. “I’ve been through slumps, but never where I hit the ball hard and didn’t get any hits. That’s the most frustrating part, you hit the ball hard and have nothing to show for it.”
How is this affecting his confidence? “My mind is cool,” the 34-year-old said. “I’ve been playing too long...At first I might let it get to me, but lately my head is clear. I’ve been playing for 12 years, I know it’s a marathon not a sprint. So hopefully the next four months will be good.”
Hitting .143 as April came to a close, White found himself pressing. Since then however, he’s taken a different approach, “Lately I’ve just been clearing my head,” the straightforward veteran explained. “You try too hard and that’s not working, so you try to relax. You really have to have the attitude that ‘what’s going to happen is going to happen’, but if it doesn’t, it’s not life or death. You just have to relax.”
“I try not to (look at my stats), but I know what I am hitting,” the former All Star continued. “I know if I get three hits one day and three hit’s the next day, it will all turn around...Every player knows what they’re hitting, they can say they don’t, but they have an idea what they are hitting.”
Things have been so bad that White has run out of places to turn for advice, “There’s really not much anyone can say to me right now,” he said. “I just have to go back and take a look at the stuff I’ve been doing and take it from there. Nobody can tell me (anything) at this point, I’ll just keep swinging.”
With two-thirds of the season ahead, there is still time for the real Rondell White to appear, “I can hit, you look at the track record,” he emphasized. “This year...if I am doing this in September, then it’s been a bad season, but there’s a long way to go.”