Early-season slumps don't worry McClendon

Early-season slumps don't worry McClendon

Early-season slumps don't worry McClendon
DETROIT -- Whenever Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon is asked about slow starts, he likes to bring up the story of his old teammate, Barry Bonds.

Thirty-six games into the 1991 season, Bonds was batting under .200. He had just two home runs on the year until a two-homer game in that 36th contest. He ended up batting .323 with 23 homers and 100 RBIs in his final 122 games, and finished runner-up in NL MVP balloting to Terry Pendleton.

McClendon's point isn't that Ryan Raburn can win MVP honors. It's that April and May hitting becomes a distant memory by September, and guys with track records of hitting usually end up hitting.

"It doesn't matter how you start," McClendon said.

Raburn still understands the frustration over his slow start, because he's frustrated at himself. After all the extra work he put in during the offseason to prepare himself for a better start, he's back where he usually has been this time of year.

"It's an irritating routine I've had for the past few years, you know," he said Sunday, "but it's definitely something I've dealt with and gone through before. So it's nothing new, just it's not real fun. Like I said, you just keep battling and grinding it out, and eventually it's going to click."

He had some harder-hit drives in Oakland last week that went for outs, then broke out of a hitless streak with a ninth-inning double Sunday. His two hits and four RBIs Tuesday, including a three-run homer, was a stronger sign.