Houston Astros Inside Pitch 2009-04-21

First baseman Lance Berkman, off to a slow start, mutually agreed with hitting coach Sean Berry on Monday that it is time for Berkman to take early batting practice.

"We just talked about it," Berkman said before hitting a home run on a night he also popped out to right with a man on third and the Astros down by a run in the eighth inning. "Anytime you're not hitting the ball like you'd like, it's always a good idea to try to figure out what's going on to try to get some extra swings."

Asked who suggested the work, Berkman said it was "just mutual."

"Have you ever had one of those situations like where you say something the exact same time and it's 'Pinch, poke, you owe me a Coke?' Or 'jinx,' that kind of thing? 'One, two, three, four, five, six, seven,' I mean, that's what it was. 'Extra hitting?' 'Extra hitting?'

"I mean, it was like that. Then we triple jinxed a double jinx, so hopefully that will straighten everything out. I did request a media blackout, which obviously wasn't honored."

Regardless of who thought of it first, it's clear the Astros need Berkman to improve.

"Hitting is a feel and, like I was saying, just working trying to get a feel," said Berkman, who entered Monday night hitting .200 with two home runs and six RBI. "There's nothing in particular where you can say it's this or that.

"Just want to try to just feel good about the swing. That's pretty much what it was. It was no mechanical secret where we're like, 'You got to do this, you got to do that.'"

REDS 4, ASTROS 3: The Astros lost because the bullpen and offense conspired to sabotage another strong start, especially Hunter Pence, who was called out on strikes with the bases loaded in the eighth facing lefty reliever Arthur Rhodes with the Reds leading 4-3. Geoff Geary loaded the bases and Tim Byrdak gave up a two-run double to let the Reds overcome a 3-2 deficit in the seventh.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 21, 2009