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D-backs being patient with Ahmed's offense

PHOENIX -- Slow starts are nothing new for D-backs shortstop Nick Ahmed, though he certainly wishes he weren't so familiar with them.

"Obviously nobody wants to start slow," said Ahmed, who entered play Monday hitting .125 in 48 at-bats this season. "It's a long season, there's a ton of at-bats to come, a ton of games to play. I just wish the last few games I could have put together some better at-bats to help the team win."

Ahmed, 25, had a poor April in Triple-A last year, and in 2013, he struggled in both April and May in Double-A.

"We're making a lot of demands on him with his swing," D-backs manager Chip Hale said. "We're kind of talking to him about some things that we need him to do to be a better Major League hitter. We talked about it in Spring Training, he did it, he's getting a little bit away from it right now. But the main thing, I think, with Nick right now is pitch selection."

According to data from FanGraphs, Ahmed is actually swinging at slightly fewer pitches outside the strike zone than he did last year, but he's making less contact with those pitches than he did last year, when he batted .200 in 75 Major League at-bats.

"Just have to stay level-headed," Ahmed said. "I lean on people that have good advice, and just stay calm and not overanalyze. Just trying to stay even keeled and go out and play."

Regardless of his performance at the plate, Ahmed is valued for his defense at a premium position, and for now, the D-backs are content to let him work things out at the Major League level.

"We just have to be patient with it," Hale said. "He knows it, he's our guy, and we just have to let him work it out."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.
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