Jenkins knows his bat will come around
In spring slump, Phillies right fielder smashes first home run
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Geoff Jenkins offered a wry smile when his .136 Grapefruit League average was mentioned Monday morning, a scheduled day off."Yeah," the Phillies right fielder said, his head slightly lowered. "Obviously, I want to get to the point where I'll be ready to go when we leave here." Instead of relaxing at the beach, Jenkins spent his day off at the Carpenter Complex, where he received six at-bats. On Tuesday, he returned to the lineup and socked his first home run of the spring, a two-run shot to left field in Philadelphia's 4-2 win over Tampa Bay. Whether Jenkins wants to admit it or not, the long ball helped his personal well-being. "That's good for him," Phils manager Charlie Manuel said. "He's been trying hard. We know he can hit one now, don't we? I'm not worried about him getting his swing down." Jenkins wasn't worried, either. Despite streaks in both directions, the lefty is a career .277 hitter with 212 home runs. So, a 7-for-46 funk and an "improved" .152 average have to be greeted with a shoulder shrug. "I wouldn't label myself as an unbelievable spring player, but I usually get it going sooner than this," Jenkins said. "The main goal is be ready when you leave. Spring Training is about getting your timing. Everyone likes to use that word [pressing] when you're not getting hits, but I haven't felt that way." Like all hitters, Jenkins needs his timing to be effective. His home run swing is generated by an uppercut, and he needs to lift his front foot and kick his leg at the right time, or his pattern is disrupted. Eventually, Jenkins feels he'll find it again. "Nobody forgets how to hit," he said. Jenkins signed a two-year, $13 million contract in December to play right field. It is hoped that his production will help replace Aaron Rowand, who departed for the Giants. Jenkins has been hitting since January, and said that perhaps he had been trying too hard to impress his new teammates. "There's probably a little bit of that," he said. "It's a new team, new city, new uniform, new everything. There's always an adjustment. I'm getting there."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.