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After 'phenomenal' BP, Shaw feeling confident

@feinsand
May 14, 2019

PHILADELPHIA -- Craig Counsell’s plan for Travis Shaw over the weekend in Chicago was to give the third baseman three consecutive days off, presenting an opportunity for both a mental break and a chance to work on his ailing swing in the cage. Although Shaw didn’t start any of the

PHILADELPHIA -- Craig Counsell’s plan for Travis Shaw over the weekend in Chicago was to give the third baseman three consecutive days off, presenting an opportunity for both a mental break and a chance to work on his ailing swing in the cage.

Although Shaw didn’t start any of the three games against the Cubs, circumstances -- namely Saturday’s 15-inning affair -- resulted in five fruitless plate appearances for the infielder. As Milwaukee opened a four-game series against the Phillies Monday at Citizens Bank Park, though, Shaw was eager to see what his weekend “off” would bring as he returned to the lineup. Though he went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in Monday's 7-4 loss to the Phillies, Shaw did walk twice.

“It’s nice to kind of take a step back,” Shaw said. “Right now, I’m pressing a lot at the plate and coming to the field a little anxious. It was a nice weekend to not have to worry about anything to start the game.”

Shaw called Sunday’s batting practice session “phenomenal” and one of his best all season, giving him reason for hope that he can move past his early-season struggles.

“It’s not the swing; it’s more mental,” said Shaw. “Everybody says it’s one swing away; I feel like for me it’s one game away. If I can put together three or four good at-bats in a row and feel that, have a plan and execute it, then it will snowball from there. They don’t have to be hits; just the right contact and the right way I want to swing. If I can do that three or four times in a row, I think I’ll be good from there.”

Shaw entered the week with four home runs, eight RBIs and a .167/.262/.288 slash line this season, mired in a 2-for-32 slump and a 16-game streak without an RBI. Coming off two seasons with 30-plus homers and an OPS well north of .800, this year’s funk has been both frustrating and baffling for the 29-year-old.

“I just don’t want to pop up anymore; I’ve popped up a lot. I’ve swing and missed a lot,” Shaw said. “I know what I want to do right now, but my swing is just not cooperating. The thing that’s bugging me this year, there have been a lot of 2-0, 3-1 counts where I just swing and miss at a fastball right in the middle of the zone. Last year, that ball is hammered.”

Like Shaw, Counsell believes a few good at-bats are all it will take to get Shaw back on track.

“We’re at the point for Travis where he needs some positive results for himself on the field; he needs positive feedback from the game,” the manager said. “We got him a little bit of a break where hopefully he wasn’t worrying about results so much, and he did some things in the cage that he believes can carry over and he can stick with them.

“I don’t even think it’s hits necessarily for Travis; it’s squaring some balls up and hitting them the right way, feeling good about that.”

More rest for Ryan

Ryan Braun remained out of the lineup for a third straight game, his sore left hamstring still not at full strength. It’s an unfortunate ballpark for Braun to sit, as his .406 career average (56-for-138) ranks first among all players with at least 135 at-bats at Citizens Bank Park. Braun did enter as a pinch-hitter in the fifth and laced a single up the middle on the only pitch he saw.

“Just trying to give him one more day and make sure we’re good and not at risk here playing,” Counsell said. “Definitely making progress.”

Braun tested his leg before the game, but the medical staff decided he wasn’t quite ready to return, though Counsell said he was “pretty optimistic” that his left fielder would be back in the lineup Tuesday. Braun, who pinch-hit in both Saturday and Sunday’s games against the Cubs, will continue to be available off the bench, Counsell said.

Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001.