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Hosmer hopes to leave first-half troubles behind

First baseman reflects on his season so far with the Padres
MLB.com @AJCassavell

SAN DIEGO -- When Eric Hosmer signed with a young Padres team during the offseason, he knew there were going to be growing pains. That hasn't made those growing pains any easier to cope with.

The Padres slumped 19 games below .500 after a 7-4 loss to the Cubs, their fifth straight, on Sunday. The past month has been particularly rough. Hosmer, who has been mired in a brutal slump himself, reflected on his first half-season with the club, pointing to the importance of coping with the adversity.

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SAN DIEGO -- When Eric Hosmer signed with a young Padres team during the offseason, he knew there were going to be growing pains. That hasn't made those growing pains any easier to cope with.

The Padres slumped 19 games below .500 after a 7-4 loss to the Cubs, their fifth straight, on Sunday. The past month has been particularly rough. Hosmer, who has been mired in a brutal slump himself, reflected on his first half-season with the club, pointing to the importance of coping with the adversity.

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"It's definitely part of the process," Hosmer said. "This is the Major Leagues. This level is real. Young guys that are experiencing this for the first time: You're going to get knocked down. It's really all about how you respond.

"You can see certain guys going through that process. Record-wise, numbers-wise, there aren't many positives from it. But when you look at each individual player, there are a lot of positives that come from it. When you look at the overall process, there are going to be a lot of things when you look back on this year that will help us."

Hosmer could be poised to break out of his own funk. His first-inning homer on Saturday night was his first in more than a month, and he followed that by going 2-for-5 on Sunday. The veteran first baseman got off to a great start with his new club. His OPS jumped to .857 on June 4, but it had dropped by 150 points before the home run.

"There's an ebb and a flow to a baseball season," said Padres manager Andy Green. "You look to the D-backs and what Paul Goldschmidt has done, going through a really rough stretch in May. He's come back with a vengeance. Eric's had a rough stretch right now, but he'll come back with a vengeance."

"The frustration of it is, you work and work and work, and still don't really get it," Hosmer said. "Then it could be a random thing, a swing on deck, something like that, and you feel what you're searching for. That's where the extent of the work comes in."

Video: CHC@SD: Hosmer opens the scoring with a 2-run homer

Hosmer's biggest challenge has been ground balls. He's made far too much weak contact into the ground. He's one of three players in the Majors with a negative launch angle, and he's second in baseball in ground-ball rate.

In the last 30 days, Hosmer is hitting grounders at a 76 percent clip, easily the highest in baseball. Essentially, on three out of four balls in play, Hosmer has put himself at the mercy of infield positioning.

There are legitimate long-term questions about whether Hosmer's swing is too ground-ball heavy. That's certainly been the case over the past month. But the Padres firmly believe his swing -- at least when everything begins to click again -- is good enough.

"I just want him to be him," said Green. "He's going to have a ton of success when he rights himself. We're not looking for anything different from him. We didn't sign him to come and alter his swing."

It's not the ground balls that concern Hosmer.

"I think I was just bad," he said. "Bad at-bats. It wasn't about the ground balls, the strikeouts. It was just me not getting the job done, not driving in runs, not helping this team win."

In that regard, the All-Star break might be a helpful respite with Hosmer having slashed .207/.240/.317 since the start of June. Plus, he'll go into the break with some minor successes to build on.

"My guess is he's going to be of the mindset that some people are going to pay the rest of the way for what's been happening the last couple weeks,"' Green said.

Padres fundraiser tallies $68,000

Padres wives and significant others raised $34,000 in Sunday's Favorite Things basket auction. The event features baskets full of players' favorite things, which are then bid upon by fans and donors.

Executive chairman Ron Fowler and his wife Alexis matched the donation, bringing the total to $68,000, all of which will go to Make-A-Wish San Diego. That total is an all-time high for the event.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Eric Hosmer