New hitting coach Derek Shelton says Tampa Bay Rays' hitting problems aren't as bad as they seem

The view from the stands, the couch and the computer screen is apparently clear: It's Derek Shelton's fault.

All of it.

The first-year hitting coach's alleged inadequacies are the reason for the Rays' extended offensive slump, as well as the sluggish economy, the traffic, the weather, the poor service at the local restaurant and your significant other's headache.

First, you should know Shelton, who has lived in the bay area a dozen years, is glad Rays fans now care so much. Second, you should know he doesn't really care what's being said about him.

"If they want to blame me, that's fine," Shelton says. "I'd rather they blame me than (the players)."

The way Shelton sees it, things are not nearly as bad as they appear from the outside.

He considers the ongoing lack of offense another of those "funks" teams — all teams — go through during a 162-game season.

He is concerned at how much the Rays strike out (924 times, first in the AL, third in MLB), but not as much since they also walk a lot (482, first in MLB).

And though having the team hit .251 (23rd in MLB) and six players under .240 isn't good, Shelton said batting average isn't as good a gauge as on-base percentage, runs created (and scored) and slugging percentage. Also, working good at-bats, getting deeper into opposing bullpens, etc.

He points to the Rays ranking third in the majors with 578 runs (4.98 per game). And, oh yeah, being second with 70 wins.

"As long as we win, I'm not really concerned about it," Shelton said. "If we win 1-0 from here on out, I'm happy."

And how much does manager Joe Maddon blame Shelton for the lack of offense?

"Zero, zilch, nada, negative, negative 10," Maddon said. "That is so wrong.

"Absolutely everybody was very pleased in the beginning of the year when we were kicking butt, we were scoring, we were driving in runs at a ridiculous pace. And all of a sudden we stopped doing that, and so all the stuff he was teaching at the beginning of the year that was working, now he's forgotten all that? Was that all wrong? Of course not. … We, individually, have to do better."

New hitting coach Derek Shelton says Tampa Bay Rays' hitting problems aren't as bad as they seem 08/14/10 [Last modified: Sunday, August 15, 2010 12:36am]

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