Gyorko hopes offensive struggles are temporary

In a slump, third baseman maintaining confidence in swing

Gyorko hopes offensive struggles are temporary

CINCINNATI -- Earmarked for a reserve role coming out of Spring Training, Jedd Gyorko instead emerged not only as the answer at third base, but also the best fit in the cleanup spot. His production proved essential, too, as the club searched for its offensive identity.

But now Gyorko is searching, too, as he's come out of the All-Star break 13-for-70 with 20 strikeouts in 20 games.

"It's been a struggle lately, but my swing is starting to feel closer to what it was at the beginning of the year," Gyorko said on Saturday. "[I] kind of got away from it, for whatever reason. I was still getting good pitches to hit; I was just missing them. I think that's just what a full season does. You go through ups and downs. Obviously, you never want to slump, and you never want it to go this long, but I feel my swing is getting back to where it needs to be, and hopefully I'll bust out any time."

After slugging .519 in the first half, Gyorko has tallied three extra-base hits since. His only home run during the stretch came in the team's first game out of the break. That dip in power has been the most glaring part of the regression for a player who led the club with 30 homers a year ago.

"Obviously I'm not barreling up as many balls as I had hoped," Gyorko said. "When you're punching out or rolling over and not making that solid contract, the power numbers are going to show that. It's stuff that is easily fixable. I just have to go out and do it."

Workload could be a culprit, too. Gyorko, who entered Saturday with 384 plate appearances, is on pace for 570, which would be a career high. Last year, he finished with 438 plate appearances. He hasn't accrued more than 460 since his rookie season in 2013.

Cognizant that the team has ridden Gyorko hard this season, mostly out of necessity, manager Mike Matheny has been more intentional about finding days off for his third baseman lately. Gyorko has been absent from the lineup three times since July 25, though each time he has returned right back into the cleanup spot.

"We have asked a lot of a guy who, when he came in, we didn't even know what his role would be," Matheny said. "Obviously, with the 30 homers last year, we figured he'd be a big part of our offense. But to throw him in there every single day and put him in the four-hole, there's quite a bit that comes with that. When Jedd gets going, he's a guy who can carry your club."

Worth noting

Dexter Fowler took batting practice and shagged balls in the outfield on Saturday in his latest step rehabbing a left forearm strain. If he checks out well through the weekend, Fowler is likely to come off the disabled list during the club's upcoming series in Kansas City.

• The Cardinals will need to make a roster move before Sunday's game in order to activate starting pitcher Adam Wainwright. It's expected that the Cardinals will cut a reliever -- likely Sam Tuivailala -- from their nine-man bullpen.

Marco Gonzales, traded by the Cardinals to the Mariners on July 21, was called up to the Majors by Seattle on Saturday. The player Gonzales was swapped for, outfielder Tyler O'Neill, is batting .304 with four homers and 16 RBIs in 11 games with Triple-A Memphis.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.