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How Can Arcia Bust His Epic Slump?

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After finishing 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in Sunday's sweep-clinching win over the White Sox, Oswaldo Arcia ran his hitless streak up to 31 consecutive at-bats. As Phil Miller noted in his post-game wrap-up, that's eight short of the franchise record.

For all his talent and explosiveness, Arcia has proven to be a slump-prone hitter, with a tendency to look totally lost during extended stretches at the plate.

Right now, he's mired in what I have to imagine is one of the worst funks of his life. It's not just the lack of hits -- it's the intensely bad at-bats. Seemingly every other plate appearance involves three or four pitches, a few non-competitive swings, and a strikeout or a pop fly.

Arcia is a good hitter. He conquered the minor leagues with remarkable ease and has certainly demonstrated the characteristics of a quality MLB slugger. Why isn't that showing through right now?

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This isn't a situation like Jason Kubel, where a prolonged slump was evidence of diminished bat speed and declining ability. Arcia is only 23 and strong as a bull. Clearly, a big part of this is mental, but I wonder if that's all it is.

I'm reminded of a tweet posted by my colleague, John Bonnes, back on June 10th:

I remember reading it at the time and thinking, "Overreact much there, Johnny Boy?" I mean, this was Arcia's second start since the ankle injury. But sure enough, it was only the beginning of what has turned into a three-week cold spell for the young outfielder.

So maybe there's something to that after all. Early in the season, Arcia had missed almost two months with a wrist injury, but he came back red-hot in late May, batting .378 with four doubles, four homers and 12 RBI in his first 11 games off the DL.

I was at Target Field for the last of those games, in which he sprained the ankle when he was picked off at second base after a double. It was a gut-punch, because at that point Arcia was the star of the offense; he'd smashed a grand slam earlier that night. He was frustrated and in obvious pain as he limped off the field.

I was surprised to see him back the next night as a pinch-hitter. The Twins had seemingly dodged a bullet. But since rolling his ankle, Arcia is 2-for-39 (.051) with 15 strikeouts in 47 plate appearances.

Could the ankle be the culprit for his ongoing issues? Has the wrist flared up again? Or is he really just stuck in his own head?

Whatever the case, his slump is headed toward historic proportions and the Twins are going to have to figure something out. They've already given him a couple days off for a "mental break," and that appears to have helped little.

Perhaps some extended rest would help get him back to 100 percent physically. Or maybe a demotion to Triple-A is in order. That seems like an unappealing option, since you'd like to see Arcia fight through this thing in the big leagues and there aren't any clearly superior alternatives available. But I do wonder how much longer Ron Gardenhire is going to be able to tolerate these hideous at-bats.

What do you think? What should the Twins do about the struggling, vitally important young outfielder?
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  1. curt1965's Avatar
    Send him down to DOUBLE A for 2 weeks. Let him get his confidence back, and maybe a little humility as well.
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