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Duvall frustrated by slow start, ready to turn tide

MLB.com @m_sheldon

CINCINNATI -- Reds left fielder Adam Duvall has been trying to find his way out of his season-long hitting woes, and knows that it hasn't been going well. Duvall didn't want to explain his process as he and hitting coach Don Long diagnose his swing, however.

"We're just working on it. I'm not going to talk about mechanics and stuff," Duvall said on Sunday.

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CINCINNATI -- Reds left fielder Adam Duvall has been trying to find his way out of his season-long hitting woes, and knows that it hasn't been going well. Duvall didn't want to explain his process as he and hitting coach Don Long diagnose his swing, however.

"We're just working on it. I'm not going to talk about mechanics and stuff," Duvall said on Sunday.

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Duvall, who didn't start on Sunday vs. the Marlins in the Reds' 8-5 loss, came into the day batting .162/.242/.369 with five home runs and 16 RBIs. He pinch-hit in the sixth inning and was called out on strikes.

He was 1-for-15 on the homestand with the lone hit being a solo homer in Friday's 4-1 win over Miami. That was his first hit since also hitting a solo homer almost a week earlier -- on April 29, at Minnesota.

Video: CIN@MIN: Duvall hammers a solo dinger to left

In his past two full seasons with Cincinnati, Duvall has come to be known for hot starts, and the one he had in 2016 carried him to the National League All-Star team. He hit a career-best 33 homers with 103 RBIs that season, followed by 31 homers and 99 RBIs last season. Both years featured second-half slumps.

Now, Duvall is going through a steep first-half funk.

"In Adam's case, I really think that they're really finishing off some two-strike pitches with him in his at-bats," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "They're not making a lot of mistakes. The balls you hit out of the ballpark, the big-time home run hitters, most of those pitches are going to be mistakes. He's hurt enough people in the last two years that I think there's a concentration level on the pitcher's part that 'I cannot hang this two-strike slider. This has got to be a chase pitch, not a two-strike ball in the zone.' He really hurt people with that the last couple of years."

Indeed, Duvall is hitting .097 (6-for-62) in two-strike situations, down from .156 last year. He entered Sunday 0-for-24 with two strikes against offspeed pitches, making him one of just three Major League players hitless with at least 20 such at-bats.

Statcast™ indicates Duvall is seeing more offspeed pitches when he has two strikes this season.

Besides slumping, Duvall has the added issue of also being unlucky. His expected batting average (.246 xBA) -- which is compiled based on rolling hit probabilities on balls with identical launch angles and exit velocities -- and actual batting average (.162) has an 84-point gap that was the third-highest on the negative or unlucky side in the Majors.

"You play this game. You want to do well and win. I feel like I haven't helped my team in a way that I know that I can. This is frustrating in itself," Duvall said. "It's not from a lack of work, that's for sure. I enjoy working. That's not the issue. It's one of those things, it's going to click and we'll start playing the way I can."

Garrett back with club

The Reds activated left-handed pitcher Amir Garrett from the bereavement list before Sunday's game. Garrett left the team during Thursday's off-day and missed the minimum three days which are required with placement on the list.

To make room for Garrett on the active roster, reliever Tanner Rainey was optioned to Triple-A Louisville. In his second big league stint, Rainey did not get into a game.

Romano OK

The swelling in Reds pitcher Sal Romano's right hand had subsided even more by Sunday, two days after a hard comebacker from Wei-Yin Chen had him fielding the ball with his bare hand on Friday vs. the Marlins. On Saturday, Romano experienced swelling and soreness below his ring finger.

Video: MIA@CIN: Romano reaches out for great barehanded grab

Everything felt normal again on Sunday.

"It's all good," Romano said. "Perfect. I'm good to go."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds, Adam Duvall