Ausmus gives slumping Kinsler day off to regroup

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler

Minneapolis — Of course Ian Kinsler tried to talk his way out of getting the night off Wednesday. You'd expect nothing less.

“Why would I (want a night off)?” he said. “I’m fine.”

Physically, yes, Kinsler is fine. But, as even he admitted, he has some mechanical issues with his swing that he needs to tend to. And generally speaking, working through mechanical issues is easier when you are not facing a major league pitcher for four or five at-bats.

“I just wanted to give him a day,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “He wanted to play. I talked to him last night and he wants to be in there. But I told him I didn’t care if he didn’t even touch a bat today.”

That wasn’t going to happen.

“I’m going to work,” Kinsler said.

After going 0-for-5 Tuesday night, Kinsler is hitless in his last 15 at-bats. Going back further, he is 1-for-29 and, over 13 games, 5-for-51. His batting average has dropped 20 points, from .295 to .275.

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“I just mechanically need to make some adjustments,” Kinsler said. “That’s really it. You just continue to play and prepare. A lot of it just part of a season. You are going to have ups and downs. You never want to but it is part of it. You have to continue to work on things.”

When Kinsler struggles, it’s usually because his swing plane gets a little steep.

“He gets a little uphill,” Ausmus said. “He starts hitting a lot of fly balls.”

Twenty-one of his last 29 outs have been pop-ups or fly outs.

But understanding the problem doesn’t make it any easier to fix. A number of factors can cause the issue — from dipping his back shoulder, to being unbalanced with his stride and-or with his hands.

“It’s all connected somehow,” Kinsler said. “Just make sure you figure it out. Stay balanced and take a proper swing.”

He’s also been a little jumpy at the plate, also a common symptom of a slump. 

“Pressing,” hitting coach Wally Joyner said. “Trying to do too much and expanding the strike zone a little bit.”

Kinsler agreed.

“I’m just chasing pitches out of the strike zone,” he said. “You have to swing at good pitches if you want good results.”

As is usually the case during a slump, though, Kinsler has hit some balls hard that were caught. His first out Tuesday, for example, was driven to the track in right field. 

“When you struggle, it’s a combination of being out of sync mechanically and also not being lucky,” Ausmus said. “He’ll come out of it.”

Andrew Romine got the start at second base Wednesday. Cameron Maybin hit in Kinsler’s leadoff spot. 

Twitter @cmccosky