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Slumping Jack Clark is benched by Red Sox

He has gone past being angry, smashing a bathroom to smithereens at Royals Stadium in Kansas City. He has gone past being frustrated, hurling a helmet at an umpire after being called out on strikes.

At this stage, Jack Clark is just plain lost at the plate. Confused. Baffled. Embarrassed.

And on the bench.

After striking out three more times in Boston's 3-2 loss to the California Angels Thursday night, manager Joe Morgan has put Clark out of his misery for the time being.

Morgan replaced the erstwhile slugger at designated hitter, with Phil Plantier assuming the role beginning in Friday night's 3-1 win over Oakland Athletics.

There was no argument from Clark.

"I'm personally getting nowhere fast," said Clark after looking at strike three from Bryan Harvey for the final out of Thursday's loss, the fifth straight for the Red Sox. They have won two straight since then.

In 45 games, Clark is batting .196, with only four homers and 15 RBI. He has 30 hits, only seven for extra bases.

But that only begins to tell the story of how horrible Clark looks at the plate. He has struck out 54 times, and been called out on strikes 22 times.

He insists his sore left wrist, which he tapes before every game, is not the problem.

But then, he doesn't have a clue about what the problem is, and how to solve it.

"I've been out taking a lot of extra early batting practice, working on a few things," said Clark. "And (Thursday) I thought I hit the ball well in BP, and had things under control, and then I went out and had probably my worst game of the year."

One thing Clark has been trying to do is alter his unorthodox hitting mechanics, in which his back foot twitches, his bat drops, his hands move around and then he approaches the ball.

He is working on squaring himself more in the batter's box, so as to see the ball better. It's working. To a point.

"I see the ball. I see myself taking third strikes, like I'm not supposed to hit it. An when I do hit it, it doesn't feel like it's going anywhere. I try to be relaxed, but nothing good is happening."

Of course, it's only early June. On July 1 last year, Clark was batting .197 with minimal power numbers, and wound up with 25 homers and 62 RBI for the San Diego Padres.

"There's a long way to go," Clark said with a shrug. "I've got to keep trying to make adjustments. But this is an empty feeling. To think I have it squared away and then have a night like this. Who can figure it? I can't. It does make any sense.

"I can't get any feedback from myself. I don't know how to talk about it. I don't even want to talk about it. But I can't stop from thinking and talkng about it."

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