Hanshin Tigers’ outfielder Kevin Mench, recently sent back to the team’s farm system for lackluster performance (his second trip), is said to be ordering a new bat to find a way to break out from his extended slump, reports Daily Sports (May 20).
During a practice session at the Naruohama Ball Park, Mench found that he liked the grip and feel of a bat used by a teammate, catcher Akihiro Yano. He has ordered the manufacturer (Mizuno) to fabricate the same model, which has a thicker contact area than his current stick. The bat should arrive by the end of May.
Mench has been using a model that weighs 850g, but this new model is 20g heavier. Further, his current bat has its weight towards the grip, limiting its head speed and not allowing his power to be applied optimally. It is hoped that he will experience a drastic turnaround at the plate in spite of his slow start — one in which he has hit .148 with no home runs over 15 games.
Yet it might be too late. Earlier this season Mench was shipped to the minors. After being recalled for two games on May 15 and 16 against the Yakult Swallows (in which he failed to collect a hit in six at-bats), he was returned “for readjustment.” The team is already looking for another foreign player to join the roster, placing additional pressure upon the outfielder.
Today, he spent batting practice at Naruohama. “It was disappointing that I couldn’t deliver in spite of the fact that they promoted me to start after I had a hot streak in minors,” said Mench. “Right now, I just have to do what I can do.”
The earliest he is scheduled to play in a game will be on May 26 against a minor league team of the Chunichi Dragons. (K.N.)