Head Games

Ingy_2With Carlos Pena struggling so much this month, I decided to ask Brandon Inge how he handled his hitting slump two years ago when he was sent to the minor leagues. 

I asked him if he has talked to Pena to give him words of encouragement, but Brandon said that based on his experience, that might not be the best thing to do.  "The last thing I wanted was for everyone to say ‘Hey, hang in there, it will get better,’ because every time someone did, it reminded me of how bad I was."  In other words, you hear it so much that it becomes counter productive and it makes the situation worse.

Carnac Interestingly enough, Inge said what helped him the most to turn things around were sessions with the Tigers Performance Enhancement Instructor (read that psychologist) Brian Peterson.  Inge said in 2003 when things were going so badly, Peterson got him to change his mindset through visualization.  "He always stressed keeping things in the present," said Inge.  "Focus on what is happening in the present and don’t worry about what has happened in the past.  If you focus on what is happening right now, there are no negative thoughts from past failures on your mind."  Brandon, through his work with Peterson, adopted a pretty simple approach.  "All I think about is the pitcher, seeing the ball and hitting it off his forehead (he doesn’t actually want to mame anyone, just hit it back up the middle).  No mechanics enter my mind.  That is my visualization."

Brandon did admit that it is easier said than done, but once it clicks in it can be a very effective tool.  He also said it took him a while to approach Peterson, because nobody wants to admit they need a head doctor.

As for Pena, his teammates have been very supportive.  Every player has gone through a slump at one time or another.  In fact, usually multiple slumps.  Carlos just has to find a way to work out of his as quickly as possible.

With Pena struggling, many fans are calling for the promotion of Chris Shelton who is tearing up the International League.  At last check, Shelton was hitting .331 with 8 homeruns and 37 RBI.  While those are impressive numbers, there is still the issue of defense.  I think the feeling may be that he needs a little more time to improve his glove.

3 Comments

Hm, interesting comments by Inge, especially in light of the recent ‘OMG A-Rod goes to a therapist!’ madness in the media. I do rather like the idea of Inge imagining himself beaning the pitcher in the forehead during every at-bat, though.

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Blue Cats and Red Sox

Mario, What would it hurt to swap Pena and Shelton for a couple of weeks? Maybe it’s time for the ego to stop controlling the situation. Some time at Toledo, has certainly helped better players than Carlos?!

Yeah the tigs definitely need to get rid of pena for a while. Let him cool off and find his swing. And while they’re at it, they can find someone to replace Ledezma too! What is going on with him??? Is he another Bonderman, where everyone thinks he’s **** and then all of a sudden he’s one of the best in the AL??? ‘Cause I’m having a hard time believing in him.

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