By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
BALTIMORE -- Adrian Gonzalez has only himself to blame.
Gonzalez was so good in the first half of the season, leading the big leagues in everything from batting average to RBI to total bases, that he set an impossibly high standard.
And now that Gonzalez has started the second half of the season mired in a 2-for-24 slump, there are theories everywhere, including one which suggests that his current funk at the plate is the result of having taken part -- and finishing second -- in the annual Home Run Derby.
Some players have refused to take part in the exhibition, claiming that participation will effect their swing for weeks to come, as it's done with some in the past. Bobby Abreu is the most notorious example, having hit 18 homers in the first half of 2005, only to follow with just six in the second half of the season.
But Gonzalez said there's no Home Run Derby Curse or even impact. He's just in a plain, old-fashioned slump.
"Baseball doesn't always go your way," said Gonzalez after an 0-for-4 night with a double play and two strikeouts. "Guy makes a diving play in the first at-bat (to start a double play) . . . it's just the (nature of the) game.
"I feel good enough. I just have to execute (better)."
Reminded that some are ready to link his five-game downturn with the Derby, Gonzalez said: "That's not an excuse. I think the days off are worse. I don't think the Home Run Derby had anything to do with it."
If Gonzalez could boil his problems down to a single word, it would be: timing.
"I'm just getting ready late, not recognizing pitches and swinging at pitches I normally wouldn't swing at," he said. "I'm chasing sliders down in the zone that I usually take, no problem. And when I get a (good) pitch, I'm fouling it off. That's all it is. It's not a big deal. It's just a matter of repetition."
Some hitters take extra batting practice to work themselves out of slumps. Others watch video, trying to find a flaw in their swing.
Gonzalez, however, is different. When he's in a dip, here's what he usually does about it: absolutely nothing.
"Just don't think about it,'' said Gonzalez. "(You) go through every at-bat just like when you're doing good. Nothing changes. The worst thing to ever do is panic and that's not something I ever do. I've been through too many of these, two-for-whatever-it--is, to panic.
"It's a long season and in a week or two, we're going to be talking about me having three hits and everything will be fine again. So I just go through (things) like every day is the same."
And, one imagines, without any second thoughts about last week's Home Run Derby.