Saturday, February 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' red-hot Logan Morrison remained positive during slump

PHOENIX — The increased production Rays first baseman Logan Morrison has shown over the past three weeks has been significant.

After slogging through his first 28 games with a .119 average and nary a home run or even an RBI, Morrison has been one of the toastiest hitters not just on the Rays but both leagues.

His .423 average in 20 games leads the majors since May 16, his .481 on-base percentage, .761 slugging percentage and 1.242 on-base plus slugging are second. He has hit seven homers, scored 16 runs, knocked in 18.

But what really stood out to Rays manager Kevin Cash was how Morrison battled through the struggles to get there.

"His confidence — it was amazing how he carried himself," Cash said. "Probably the most impressive personality for a month that I saw out of anybody I've ever been around in baseball for scuffling.

"He just carried himself real well. He stayed positive. He continued to be a really good teammate, pulling for the guys when he wasn't playing. And he continued to get his work in constantly. I'm really happy for him how it turned around. And hopefully he remains hot, because we need him to."

Morrison said he didn't see much of a choice but to remain positive and patient, admitting now he may have been pressing a bit to impress with his new team (and having been kept over incumbent James Loney), knowing that, eventually, he would show he could indeed have an impact.

"It was definitely a challenging time," Morrison said. "But I never had a doubt I was ever going to get a hit again or anything like that."

In the past, Morrison acknowledges, he may not have handled it so well. But his temperament changed a bit last September, when he and wife Christie had a daughter, whom they named Ily, standing for I Love You.

"I think it's helped a lot that I had a kid, so you can kind of keep it in perspective that it's just a game," he said. "And no matter how bad you are doing doesn't give you an excuse to be a (bad) person. So I don't think that would be a recipe for success anyway."

It also helped, he said, that Cash remained positive and supportive of him and kept him in the lineup somewhat regularly even when he was hitting in double digits (.094) on May 1.

"That," Morrison said, "was awesome for me."

There also were some strategic and tactical changes involved, primarily as Morrison went from swinging at pitches he couldn't hit, or at least couldn't hit hard, to letting those go and honing in on pitches which with he could make solid contact. And, related, no longer taking pitches he should have been swinging at.

"For the most part, it's just pitch selection," he said. "Being able to stay behind the baseball a lot more consistently has helped."

The Rays acquired Morrison from the Mariners (with Brad Miller and Danny Farquhar for Nathan Karns, C.J. Riefenhauser and Boog Powell) with the idea that he would add power and patience to their lineup. He also has proved to be adept at first base, and, despite not having much speed, is an aggressive baserunner.

He hit 23 homers for the Marlins in 123 games in 2011, and 17 for the Mariners last year in 146. Even after his horrid start, he is on pace for 20 this season.

"This is a guy who has a track record of hitting home runs and getting some big hits," Cash said. "So hopefully that continues."

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

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