Slugger confident swing has returned to form as he triples among 2 hits on Tuesday
By Chris Bumbaca
NEW YORK -- Now that his hamstring is feeling exponentially better, Eric Thames is confident his swing -- as well as his fortunes at the plate -- is about to pick up and help him find the success he enjoyed during the first month of the season.
His swing looked just fine in the Brewers' 5-4 loss to the Mets in 12 innings on Tuesday, as Thames reached base in his first four plate appearances, finishing 2-for-4 with two walks.
Thames truly realized his leg was back to normal when he turned on the jets and legged out a triple in the fifth inning against Mets starter Tyler Pill. Per Statcast™, the ball was barreled and left his bat with an exit velocity of 108.5 mph.
"I've been battling [the hamstring injury] for about a month," Thames said. "I don't really think fans understand that when your body is out of sync, when your lower half is not working, you start swinging all together. There's no power. There's no bat speed."
Thames entered Tuesday hitless in his last 19 at-bats and was just 3-for-37 (.081) with no extra-base hits, one RBI and 14 strikeouts over his last 13 games. Thames' May numbers are not much better: a .203 average with two home runs and seven RBIs, including 22 strikeouts in 22 games.
Before Tuesday's contest, Brewers manager Craig Counsell insisted Thames' slump is a typical one most players go through at some point.
"He's just a little in between offspeed and fastball, he's kind of caught in between," Counsell said. "The thing that he was really good at [was] hitting the pitch that he got to hit, and he was really good at not leaving the strike zone. He's still done a nice job of that, but he did a fabulous job of that the first month."
While Counsell downplayed the idea that Thames' struggles stemmed from his lingering hamstring issue, Thames said it definitely played a part in his funk. After the game, Thames' skipper was encouraged by what he saw.
"It was a good night, for sure, just kind of able to exhale a bit and take a deep breath," Counsell said. "Hopefully this gets him back on track."
And with his hamstring and his swing both feeling much healthier, Thames feels the same way as Counsell, in that he will once again have the confidence to drive the pitches he is supposed to and lay off the ones pitchers would use to get him out.
"At least my swing will be there, so when I do get that cookie to hit, I won't miss it," Thames said.
Does Thames feel like he can use Tuesday's positive results to start a new hot streak?
"I'm fired up," he said. "I'm ready to use this as a bounce board."
Chris Bumbaca is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.