CEDAR RAPIDS — There is nothing more miserable than knowing you don’t have a chance when you go to the plate. That’s where Trey Cabbage was about a week and a half ago.
The Cedar Rapids Kernels first baseman wasn’t getting hits, wasn’t making contact. He had a string of seven consecutive strikeouts over two games.
He had no clue.
“At that point, you don’t know what you’re doing,” Cabbage said, after a three-hit night helped his club past West Michigan, 7-6, at Veterans Memorial Stadium. “You’re kind of going back to the drawing board. It got to the point where it was like ‘Don’t strikeout.’ You can’t have that mindset. You’ve got to have positive thoughts.”
He’s had a lot more of those lately.
Cabbage has raised his batting average from .133 to .259. Saturday night, he obliterated a 3-1 fastball from West Michigan relief pitcher Oswaldo Castillo over the right-field fence for a go-ahead, two-run home run measured at 440 feet.
“I’ll take that,” Cabbage said. “Not bad.”
Minnesota’s fourth-round draft pick in 2015, the well-built 21-year-old from Tennessee has unquestioned power. When he gets into a ball, he hits it a long, long way.
But with power, comes strikeouts. The key for Cabbage is not having too many of those.
“For him, it’s a confidence thing,” said Kernels Manager Toby Gardenhire. “He gets down on himself sometimes, and he starts over-thinking it a little bit. He’s been striking out this year, but he has done a way better job with his mental approach. He has not been letting things get to him as much.”
Cabbage credited his turnaround to work with Twins roving hitting instructor Rick Eckstein and a chat with former Twins outfielder Torii Hunter, who was in town recently.
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“I just basically simplified the game,” he said. “I lowered my hands. I used to have a load and a leg kick, and now I basically cut that out. Get the leg down early. I’m seeing the ball so much better, and that helps. You’ve got to see it to hit it.
“That was one thing Torii Hunter preached to me. I was late, (so) get it down early and make sure you can see it. That has helped big time.”
Ben Rortvedt also had a two-run homer for the Kernels (14-9). Randy Dobnak (3-0) threw five innings piggybacking starting pitcher Blayne Enlow for the win.
Enlow was activated from the disabled list earlier Saturday and was limited to 41 pitches and two innings. Pitcher Rickey Ramirez was sent to extended spring training to make room for Enlow on the active roster.
The teams conclude their three-game series Sunday afternoon at 2:05.
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