There have been times in Troy Glaus’ career when he has dropped into a horrendous slump and, like any other athlete wallowing at the intersection of Desperate and Irrational, he sought answers in something more metaphysical than a flawed batting stance.
So he changed how he drove to the stadium.
“I’d drive a different way in the past,” Glaus said Monday. “But here in Atlanta, I still don’t know how to get around that well, so I’ve got to stick to the one route I know.”
Glaus is ahead of Nate McLouth. At least the Braves haven’t told him to Mapquest directions to their Triple-A affiliate in Gwinnett like they did McLouth last week. But a change to Glaus’ status as the team’s starting first baseman can’t be that far away.
The Braves returned home Monday night and got well. They dumped the New York Mets 4-1. Glaus had little to do with it, although an early walk and a single (followed by two strikeouts) almost was worthy of a parade. He’s 15 for 90 (.167) since June 28.
Before we delve any further into the ugliness, understand something: This season is different. They have the look of a postseason team for the first time in five years. They are playing with an aggressiveness and purpose like we haven’t witnessed since the early 1990s.
They also are operating differently off the field. In past years, a starter like McLouth never would’ve been sent to the minors, possibly to not be seen again until rosters expand in September (if then). He would’ve been kept in the majors longer to work out his problems. It was the Braves’ way.
In past years, the Yunel Escobar-for-Alex Gonzalez shortstop swap might not have been made. Even if Escobar had become a headache to some team members, this team never has been about dealing a younger, more talented starter
(after only one bad half-season) for an older and more stable veteran. Even the deadline acquisitions of Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth hinted at rare a sense of urgency.
In short: The Braves are not nearly as patient as they used to be.
There’s only one reason Glaus has been extended a lifeline: He was unconscious in May. He hit .330 with six homers and 28 RBI in 28 games. He went from the dubious signing of winter to a career highlight on general manager Frank Wren’s resume.
But now, May is looking like an aberration. His batting average in July: .182. His season average, excluding May: .209. He hasn’t hit a home run since June 19. He has six RBIs in the last 33 games.
The problem isn’t just that Eric Hinske and prospect Freddie Freeman look like more attractive options. The problem is that anybody in the stadium looks better.
Glaus said he isn’t injured. He said he doesn’t feel worn down: “I feel good. I feel fine. There’s no issue there.”
Hitting coach Terry Pendleton counters: “He’s tired. He has said that. He may not say that to you, but this time of year everybody has a little fatigue in him.”
Glaus is aware of the extremes. It’s impossible to hit .330 in one month and .237 and .182 in the next two and be oblivious. But he said it’s not unusual for him to struggle in the middle of the season and rebound in the last two.
He rejects any suggestions that his age (34 today) makes a late-season rebound unlikely. “Everybody goes through swoons at some point,” he said.
“I’ve had the same swing since I was five years old,” he said. “Maybe it’s a timing issue. Maybe it’s a pitch selection issue at this point. There are so many variables in having a successful at-bat.”
Pendleton worked with him in the cage before Monday’s game. He determined Glaus was “closing off his stride to the point where he couldn’t get his hips open. It was almost like he was diving over the plate to the ball.”
That’s not the only place he’s diving.
You don’t need no stinkin’ DVR: Last 4 posts