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Cozart is coming around at the plate

LOS ANGELES -- The "Mendoza line", also known as a .200 batting average, is starting to appear well back in Reds shortstop Zack Cozart's rearview mirror.

Cozart entered Monday's series opener against the Dodgers with hits in nine of his previous 11 games and was batting .372/.400/.442 in that stretch. He is hitting .329 over his last 22 games to raise his overall average from .148 on April 27 to .238.

The climb out of the early slump did not require major mechanical adjustments. Rather, it was mostly because of his mental approach.

"Obviously, it's confidence, being on time and getting good pitches to hit," Cozart said on Monday. "I'm kind of looking in a zone, and if they throw it there I'm attacking it. If they're not there early in the count, I'm letting it go. Early in the year, when I started the year 0-for-22, I was chasing hits instead of trying to get my pitch and drive it. I'm definitely feeling a lot better."

Throughout April, when some fans were calling for Cozart to be benched, his solid defense kept him in the lineup as an asset to manager Bryan Price. It also didn't hurt that Price personally told Cozart a couple of times that he didn't have to look over his shoulder.

"Nobody wants to struggle. I'm not a young guy, but I've only got three years here. To have your manager tell you that is big," Cozart said. "It definitely helped me out for him to say 'I'm still going to run you out there every day. I know you're going to come through this.'

"I go through something like this every year. It just happened to be at the beginning of the year this year. Better to get that bad streak out of the way early. Hopefully, I can continue to stay strong and finish strong."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon.
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