For the first time in a very young major league career, Orioles outfielder Cedric Mullins is dealing with a slump. He went 0-for-4 last night versus Oakland and is 4-for-37 (.108) in his last 10 games, dropping his average from .317 to .240.
Mullins certainly knew some tough days would be coming after his great start. It’s just part of the game for every player. He made his major league debut Aug. 10 and became the first Oriole to ever debut with a three-hit game. After his first nine games, he was batting .387.
“I’ve always heard that when you first come up, there might be some struggles,” he said. “I started off pretty well and pitchers made adjustments. It’s a matter of me slowing the game, figuring out what their approach is to me and making adjustments off of that.”
Mullins knows the mental part of the game is huge.
“It’s purely mental,” he said. “You just have to always keep your head in the game and not let the amount of failure you’re having get in the way of future success. It’s a matter of continuing to push through and continuing to learn. There is a learning curve. Just studying these guys, it’s hard facing what seems to be a very new pitcher every time you go out there. To make those adjustments on the fly, at-bat after at-bat, is something that you have to stay mentally strong for.”
Mullins said he is not seeing a different pitch mix from opponent hurlers. For instance, he doesn’t feel he’s been seeing more breaking balls recently.
“I think it’s the same amount of off-speed pitches I’ve seen in Double-A and Triple-A, especially Triple-A,” he said. “They locate their stuff a little better here and you have to continue to put good swings on the ball. Every once in a while, you will feel off. How do you push through that to help contribute to the team?”
Meanwhile, things are moving a little more slowly for DJ Stewart today, after the 2015 first-round pick make his major league debut. He went 0-for-3 and had a hit taken away when Athletics first baseman Matt Olson dove to his left in the last of the fifth.
Early on, the nerves were churning.
“The first at-bat, my heart was beating out of my chest, honestly,” said Stewart. “But once I made that first contact on the ball and ran around the bases a little bit, it was like relief. Then the rest of the game was just another game and I felt good. After that first at-bat, coach (Wayne) Kirby said, ‘Now you can go play. That one’s over with.’ And that was how it was after that.”
But earlier, he took some time to soak it in.
“I did that kind of before the game when I was warming up,” Stewart said. “I was doing sprints before the game. I sprinted out to center field and was kind of just by myself. I kind of looked up and that is when it hit me.”
Stewart’s first game came in front of a group of about 25 family members and friends. That group included his parents and fiancee, his younger brother, a cousin and his family that live in the Baltimore area, a youth football coach who flew in for the game and the pastor that will marry Stewart and his fiancee in January.
“It was special. I was looking at videos last night of them showing my family and to see the smiles on their faces was awesome. My little brother, I don’t think I’ve seen him smile that big,” Stewart said with a smile of his own.