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Adam LaRoche's average has slipped from .336 to .287 in the last two weeks.
Times like the two-week stretch he's currently in, during which the Nationals first baseman has seen his batting average drop ... 49 points.
LaRoche insists he doesn't feel that way anymore.
"It's not the end of the world," he said yesterday afternoon at Marlins Park. "It won't be the last time it happens. But in no way do I feel lost, which I have in the past, where you're really searching for it. I'm still comfortable up there. I just need to find some holes."
Perhaps LaRoche took the first step toward getting over this mini-slump last night when he twice doubled during the Nationals' 5-3 loss to the Marlins. He would rather have produced in the top of the first, when he stepped to the plate with two on and one out and struck out swinging at a pitch from Josh Johnson. But he wasn't going to lose sleep over one poor at-bat.
LaRoche said he's always admired the ability of many elite hitters to pay no attention to their stats, to have no idea whether they're in the middle of a 20-game hitting streak or an 0-for-20 slump. It's an approach he's tried to take in recent years, though it wasn't always easy when he would get off to one of his trademark slow starts to a season.
This year, LaRoche flipped the typical storyline. He burst out of the gates, hitting .336 with seven homers, 30 RBI and a 1.024 OPS through his first 34 games. All of a sudden, words the 32-year-old had never heard associated with himself were being uttered: "All-Star."
And then ... well, he fell into a slump. He's now got six hits over his last 48 at-bats, a stretch that leaves his batting average at .287.
LaRoche always talks about his ability to either "see the ball" well or not at all as the biggest factor in his performance at the plate. In this case, he insists he's been seeing the ball fine.
"Not that it's been great," he said. "But I'd say for about 10 days, I was seeing it real good and just didn't have any luck. I was hitting a couple of balls really hard every game, just right at somebody. You know, there's times when things aren't going well and you look out there and see 15 fielders. And there's other times when the entire field looks like a hole, no matter where you hit, and it's going to fall in. It actually has felt pretty good, which has allowed me to stay somewhat patient."
LaRoche's hot six weeks to start the season also has helped him stay calm through this slide.
"I think it helps," he said. "But it also makes it pretty frustrating, to know you can go from being really hot to really cold that fast."