KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Marcus Semien talked to several coaches and Paul Konerko throughout his slow start, one that has come to an abrupt ending.
“Keep it simplified,” Semien said.
Semien and the White Sox came to the conclusion the rookie infielder was trying to do too much at the plate in a 0-for-13 spell to start the season. Perhaps the most telling sign of Semien’s early struggles were consecutive at-bats in Wednesday’s game where he expanded his strike zone and struck out with the go-ahead run on third base.
Semien — who ended Thursday’s game with a bases-loaded walk and a solo home run — said he has sought counsel from manager Robin Ventura, hitting coach Todd Steverson and assistant hitting coach Harold Baines. Konerko also stopped him while the two were lifting weights.
“They all told me, ‘Be relaxed, don’t be too hard on yourself,’” Semien said. “‘Focus on what you need to do up there. Keep it simplified. Relax.’ (Konerko) just asked what I was thinking, and pretty much we came to the conclusion that I need to go up there and look for the pitch I want to hit. It’s hard enough competing with the pitcher. That’s a good, simple thought to have, and that’s where I’ll start.”
Ventura believes Semien, who has started each of the team’s first four games, was putting too much pressure on himself. He got away from the simple approach that helped him rise from Double-A to the majors last season. But Ventura also saw Semien get back to his comfort zone with a sixth-inning walk on Thursday that forced in the tying run. Semien, who doubled early Friday, homered in his last at-bat Thursday to temporarily put the White Sox ahead.
“You go up there and you’re probably doing things that aren’t natural at that time,” Ventura said. “He’s pretty consistent with doing the right thing all the time. He kind of closed it up a little bit and works a walk, and I think its helped him of going up for the next at-bat of making it simple.”
Now Semien said his focus is to get back to quality at-bats. He’s not naïve enough to believe each will deliver a good result but that the overall process should lead to success.
“If you put in the effort to do so, more times than not you’re coming out with a quality at-bat,” Semien said. “It may not be a hit, but before that I wasn’t having quality at-bats. I wasn’t getting the result I wanted whether it was a hit or not a hit.”