Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010
By Kevin Czerwinski
Bad fortune certainly seems to be following Brandon Guyer to some degree this season. Yet, the Tennessee outfielder, who sports a gritty, run through a wall-type of attitude, is determined to keep pressing forward despite the fact that at times fate seems to be conspiring against him.
Guyer returned to Smokies lineup Monday night after missing three games with a case of conjunctivitis pink eye. The inflammation in his eyes left him unable to put in his contact lenses, rendering him unable to play. While the three games he missed waiting for the problem to subside wouldnt normally be an issue a little break in August never hurt anyone Guyer was in the midst of his hottest streak of the season.
The former fifth-round 2007 pick from Virginia was riding a 16-game hitting streak at the time his eyes went wacky. He returned to the lineup against Chattanooga, though, and collected three hits to extend his streak to 17 games, two shy of the longest streak in the Southern League this season. Hes hitting .477 during the 17 games with four homers and 22 RBIs.
I would have been able to play if I could have put my contacts in, said Guyer, 24, who has pushed his season average to .331, second best in the Southern League. That was one of the more frustrating things about it. I felt like I didnt lose too much of my timing, though and I was glad I could get back out there.
It wasnt the first time Guyer missed action this season. He missed two weeks in late April and early May after injuring his shoulder, a recurrence of an injury he suffered at the University of Virginia in the weeks leading up to the draft. Guyer slid head first into second base against Birmingham and jammed the shoulder on April 28.
Guyer was hitting .283 at the time but when he got back into the lineup on May 10, he played in only two games before missing two more weeks. When he returned in early June his average slumped and he spent a month working toward getting his stroke back. He finally began to come around in July and believes the current streak on which he finds himself is more of an indication of who he is as a player than the one who struggled for much of June.
I felt better when I came back but it took time to get comfortable again, he said. Im just getting up to the plate now and keeping it simple. KISS. Keep it simple stupid. If I have a bad at-bat I just say KISS, KISS over and over. I dont go up there and try to do too much. I just want to keep it simple and hit line drives.
Tennessee won the first-half title in the Southern Leagues North Division and appears headed to repeat in the second half. It holds a three-game lead over West Tenn heading into Wednesdays action at Mississippi and Guyers play of late has been a big reason why. Hes anxious to finish what he and the Smokies have started.
First off, were in a playoff hunt and Id like to finish this off and get a ring, he said. Id also like to keep on the roll that Im on and end the season the best possible way I can. Other than that, I cant think about anything else. I feel that if I go out and do what I can do, that other stuff promotions will happen naturally.
Should Guyer continue to play the way he has been, a trip to Iowa may be in the offing. The I-Cubs are in the midst of a playoff chase as well and would likely welcome the help. Guyer has been demonstrating an ability to hit all pitches to all fields, an ability he says he didnt possess when he came out of college. Hes spraying the ball more, though, using the whole field now and the results speak for themselves.
I feel like have more to work on but this year I have made huge strides, he said. Maybe I need to be more patient at the plate in certain situations, maybe hit for some more power. Stealing bases, Id like to get better at that.
Deep down, though, I always knew I could produce at this level. Its all been about hard work and confidence.
Oh, and overcoming a bit of misfortune.
Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at email@example.com.