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Thames given time off to clear mind at plate

Brewers slugger asks Counsell for rest ahead of finale vs. Reds
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

CINCINNATI -- What Eric Thames did on Thursday isn't easy for a Major Leaguer. He knocked on his manager's door and said he needed a break.

Thames got his day off and will probably get Friday off, too, Brewers manager Craig Counsell suggested. Thames was led to Counsell's office by a four-strikeout performance on Wednesday night that left him 3-for-37 with 17 strikeouts over his past 10 games.

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CINCINNATI -- What Eric Thames did on Thursday isn't easy for a Major Leaguer. He knocked on his manager's door and said he needed a break.

Thames got his day off and will probably get Friday off, too, Brewers manager Craig Counsell suggested. Thames was led to Counsell's office by a four-strikeout performance on Wednesday night that left him 3-for-37 with 17 strikeouts over his past 10 games.

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He needed the day to unplug.

"Oh my god, yeah," Thames said. "I had a good talk with Counsell. My mind's been working way too much. This gives me a few days to kind of relax and be able to breathe. When you start to slump a little, you start doing more work, and so it's going to be the opposite for me -- read, relax, take a step back and breathe, and then take on the Marlins."

Thames allowed himself 5-10 swings in the batting cage before batting practice on Thursday, but he spent most of the afternoon at his locker with his headphones on and a bat in his hand. He is a big believer in visualization and meditation, practices he adopted during three huge seasons in South Korea.

At the start of this season, Thames made the transition back to Major League Baseball look easy. His 11 home runs in the opening month tied the Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman for the MLB lead, and Thames' 1.276 OPS was good for fourth.

Video: Thames sets Brewers record with 11 homers in April

From May 1 through Wednesday, when Thames endured his second four-strikeout game in the span of nine days, he batted .189 with a .727 OPS and 61 strikeouts in 49 games.

"It's a day, or a couple days, where you just don't have to think about that you have four at-bats ahead of you," Counsell said. "A little different perspective will hopefully generate a [few] different ideas. Take a little break. That's how the baseball season works. Players get to that point sometimes. You hope you don't, but it's common.

"Hopefully a couple days away, maybe, will kind of recharge him and get him going."

The Brewers knew coming into the season that Thames faced a potentially difficult transition in his return to MLB. In Korea, teams have more regular days off and don't deal with long travel and different time zones.

There's also the significant matter of the quality of competition he is facing. By now, opponents have much more data on which to base a plan of attack against Thames.

"I feel like it's kind of strange for me. I have to get used to the high strike," Thames said. "Balls that I feel like were balls are strikes now. I'm opening up that zone and I'm starting to chase more and more.

"I'm getting there. Obviously the pitchers aren't perfect and they're not going to throw the ball there every time, down in their spots. So they'll miss middle. It's all a matter of just hitting pitches and not fouling them or swinging through them, but barreling them. It happens. I'm still making adjustments.

"It's going to be all right. We have a long ways to go, so I'm not worried."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Milwaukee Brewers, Eric Thames