MILWAUKEE -- Although hardly alone among some in the Reds' lineup, left fielder Jonny Gomes is finding the hits harder to come by these days.
Gomes, who was given a break on Tuesday, was back in Wednesday's lineup. He came into the afternoon in a 3-for-25 slump, his average dipping to .211. Reds manager Dusty Baker had Gomes in his office on Tuesday to chat about hitting philosophy.
"The main thing is we've got to get Jonny aggressive in the strike zone," Baker said on Wednesday. "He's taking fastballs and swinging at breaking balls. Some of that is a little bit of tension and wanting to do it so badly. We're just trying to get him to the point of relaxing. You can accomplish a lot of things with controlled aggression and relaxation."
With six home runs and 16 RBIs, Gomes leads the club in both categories. And despite his low average, he has a .376 on-base percentage and his 18 walks in 93 plate appearances ranked second in the National League behind teammate Joey Votto heading into play Wednesday.
Baker has not lost confidence that Gomes will start contributing again.
"We need Jonny. I know what Jonny can do," Baker said. "If I didn't know what he could do, it'd be a different story. Where he's batting in the lineup is so very important behind Joey and Brandon [Phillips]. The fifth-place hitter, he's your foundation man of your lineup. He'll be fine. When you're struggling some, you want to be fine today. It doesn't always happen."