Barmes battles slump


Mired in a season-long slump, shortstop Clint Barmes will be benched for at least the next few days as he tries to cure his batting woes. “I’m expecting good things to happen from it,” Barmes said Wednesday. “I’ve done this before and it’s worked, so I’m staying positive.” Rookie Jordy Mercer, who tonight is making his frst career start against the Reds, and Josh Harrison will share time at short while Barmes is out.

Hitless in his past nine at-bats, Barmes is batting .170 with a .196 OBP. His lousy .189 batting average in May is actually 40 points higher than what he hit in April. “I’ve gotten to where I’m using too much body and coming around the ball,” Barmes said. “I’m trying to find something that will help me keep to the path of the ball as long as possible.” Barmes has been pulling off balls, hitting everything off the end of the bat instead of squaring it up. “It’s been a struggle to consistently take good swings in a game,” he said.

Barmes already has been putting in long hours with hitting coach Gregg Ritchie. Now, manager Clint Hurdle will become more hands-on. “Gregg’s probably sick of me at this point,” Barmes said with a wry smile. “But, it’s just another way of hearing the same thing. There’s not a whole lot different, other than it’s coming from your manager.”

Hurdle said Barmes will be on the same type of program that Rod Barajas began about three weeks ago. Barajas has gone 17 for 44 (.386) over his past 13 games. “We predicate everything off hitting line drive to center field,” Hurdle said. “We really try to kick a lot of noise to the curb and keep it simple: hit the ball where it’s pitched, be more cognizant with what his hands are doing and what he’s doing with the barrel.”

Barmes and Hurdle have a history together from when they both were with the Colorado Rockies. “I know the things he fights when he doesn’t do well,” Hurdle said. “I try to accentuate what his strengths are and what he’s got to stay away from. Other than that, I don’t know that there’s any greater success opportunity is if you’ve had a guy in the past. More often than not, it’s how receptive the student is to the information that’s given.”