Apparently after almost a quarter of the season, Mike Aviles revealed to Royals staff that he has a sore forearm. Sunday, on MLB.com, Dick Kaegel posted an article on covering this “revelation.” If you’d like to take a moment to read it, click here.
I am a big Mike Aviles fan, and hope this is the real reason behind his struggles, but I’m not sure I am buying what the Royals, Aviles, and Hillman are selling. There is a reason that Aviles has been struggling, but a forearm injury that has persisted since spring training? Let’s take a look at some of Mike Aviles stops the last couple of years.
Minor Leagues (2003-2008) 2,417 AB (.297/.338/.464)
Kansas City Royals (2008) 419 AB (.325/.354/.480)
Puerto Rico Winter League (2008) 112 AB (.321/.379/.491)
World Baseball Classic (2009) 21 AB (.190/.227/.238)
Spring Training (2009) 45 AB (.333/.380/.511)
The one constant in approximately 3,000 at bats since the Royals drafted him in the 7th round of the 2003 draft is that Mike Aviles can hit. He always has. Even in the WBC when he hit only .190 he still recorded a hit in 5 of the 6 games he played in.
Before he left for the WBC he was hitting .222 in his first 9 spring at bats. When he returned from the WBC he hit .361. If he did hurt his forearm in spring training, the numbers don’t bear it out. His last two games before the start of the season he was 3-5. I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist, but after the developments of Soria’s injury and the circumstances of Meche’s back/fatigue problems, I don’t buy a case of forearm stiffness 40 games into the season. I don’t buy an injury that allegedly took place in spring training when he was hitting like he always had. I don’t buy that a team-first player like Mike Aviles wouldn’t have said something to someone on the team, or staff, after hitting .194/.221/.269 in 108 at bats. I don’t buy that over the course of 40 games no one noticed a change in Aviles’ swing. His teammates didn’t notice, Hillman admits he didn’t notice, and Kevin Seitzer didn’t notice.
Speaking of Seitzer, where is the quote or statement from Kevin Seitzer in Kaegel’s article? It is often said that a hitting or pitching coach will positively impact a handful of players, negatively impact a handful of players and have a negligible impact on the rest of the team. I think the reality is that Seitzer’s coaching has negatively impacted Mike Aviles to the point that his presence in the lineup was actually a detriment to the team. Once it got to that point, the only solution was to pull Aviles from the lineup and work on getting back to his own hitting philosophy before Seitzer started working with him. If the forearm injury is legit, it is a contributing factor to his struggles and not the main cause.
I think Kevin Seitzer has done a pretty good job at the hitting coach thus far. The team is far more patient at the plate than they have been in a long time. Callaspo, Butler, and Teahen are tailor-made players to blossom under Seitzer’s instruction. But not everyone is going to take well to a hitting coach’s approach and instruction. Unfortunately that player, at least for this year, is Mike Aviles.