Rest one way to try and get struggling players back on right track

Updated: June 28, 2009

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The Yankees have decided the best way to get Alex Rodriguez right is to sit him from time to time.

We're seeing two former MVPs (the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez and the Phillies' Jimmy Rollins) dealing with slumps, and their teams are dealing with these slumps by giving their superstars time off.

The New York Yankees have already given A-Rod a couple of days off to deal with mental fatigue, and the Phillies recently decided to do the same thing with the struggling Rollins, who is hitting .211 this season.

Giving both players time off was and is a good idea because sometimes players keep slumps going by continuing to press; they just try so hard to break out of that slump. We're definitely seeing that out of two guys who have a lot of pride and who see themselves as the leaders of their teams. There is no doubt in my mind that these two are pressing because they know what they are capable of and want to get back on track.

In A-Rod's case, it's especially a good idea because he very well may have come back too soon from his hip surgery. This guy is a great player who had an extremely turbulent offseason. I'm sure he wanted to be back in the comfort zone of his clubhouse, playing with his teammates and manning third base instead of dealing with all the extracurricular stuff he's had to deal with nonstop since before spring training.

I personally would rather have seen A-Rod take another couple of weeks off so that he could get completely back on track. Since that didn't happen, the Yankees now have to deal with the situation of A-Rod still playing himself back into All-Star mode. For him, that's going to require more than just time in the cages and time watching video. He needs to get his body back to 100 percent for us to start seeing the A-Rod we're used to seeing. He has shown good signs this past week, with solid at-bats against the Braves and Mets.

Rollins is a totally different case, and it reminds me of some of the times when I wasn't fundamentally sound at the plate. When that happens, I don't subscribe to looking at video of the bad at-bats. There is no need to continue to reinforce those bad habits. When I went through these periods, I'd study video of my good at-bats. That way I was looking at myself in different situations and was able to study what I was doing right. Then I'd take that knowledge into the cages and start with some soft toss to start to get some positive thinking going.

Once I'd start dominating the soft toss, I'd start speeding up the pitching I was seeing until I got to a level that was more reflective of game situations. At that point, I would be in pretty good shape and ready to take it onto the field.

I have no doubt that A-Rod and Rollins will get back on the right track and start hitting again and soon; for A-Rod it might have already started happening. These two guys are major talents. Pair that talent with the hard work and smarts necessary to be great players. Watch for them to go in and make the adjustments necessary and for each to have a big second half.

Past Baseball Tonight Clubhouses: June 25 | June 24 | June 23 | June 22 | June 21

WEB GEMS SCOREBOARD

Touch 'Em AllThis season, "Baseball Tonight" will be tracking Web Gems. We'll publish a leaderboard on the Baseball Tonight Clubhouse page each Monday. In addition to listing the leaders in appearances (both players and teams) on "Baseball Tonight," we'll offer up the leaders in Web Gem points.

Web Gem points will be calculated by awarding five points for the night's top defensive play, four points for second, three for third, two for fourth and one for fifth. Scoring will be based on the Web Gems from the last "Baseball Tonight" show to air on a given night.

Web Gem points leaderboard
Brandon Inge 24
Carlos Gomez 22
Ryan Zimmerman 20
Ryan Sweeney 19
Jack Wilson 19
Michael Bourn 18

Web Gem appearances leaderboard (players)
David Wright New York Mets Third base 8
Brandon Inge Detroit Third base 8
Ryan Zimmerman Washington Third base 7
Carlos Gomez Minnesota Center field 6

Web Gem appearances leaderboard (teams)
Washington 21
Pittsburgh 19
Philadelphia 18
New York Mets 18
Chicago White Sox 17
Boston 17

ON DECK: MONDAY'S MATCHUPS

Rays at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. ET

Toronto gets its ace back, with Roy Halladay scheduled to return from a stint on the disabled list. Halladay has won his past seven decisions, not having suffered a loss since April 21 at home against Texas.

Angels at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. ET

The Angels have taken over first place in the AL West, but the Rangers will get a chance to take back the top spot in the division. The Angels have won five in a row, and though they rely heavily on pitching, it has been the bats doing the job lately. Three times during the five-game winning streak they have scored in double digits.

Giants at Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. ET

Tim Lincecum takes the mound, the same mound he could be starting the All-Star Game from a few weeks from now. Lincecum is coming off a complete-game, 12-strikeout performance against the A's, which was good for his third win in four starts.

For the rest of Monday's schedule, click here.

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BBTN ON THE AIR: MONDAY

TIME WHO'S ON?
10 p.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: John Kruk, Peter Gammons, Dave Winfield
12 a.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: John Kruk, Peter Gammons, Dave Winfield

TOUCH 'EM ALL

Insider Who went deep? Keep track of all the home runs hit each day on "Baseball Tonight" and on the Baseball Tonight Clubhouse page.

For more, check out the Home Run Tracker page.

Home Run Tracker
NAME HR OPPPITCHER SITUATION
A. Hill, Tor18PhiMoyerBot 1: 0-1, 1 Outs. None on.
J. Bautista, Tor2PhiMoyerBot 2: 2-1, 2 Outs. 1 on.
C. Jones, Atl9BosPennyBot 1: 2-2, 2 Outs. None on.
A. Hill, Tor19PhiMoyerBot 3: 0-0, 0 Outs. None on.
D. DeJesus, KC6PitMortonTop 4: 2-2, 0 Outs. None on.
A. Dunn, Was19BalHernandezTop 4: 0-2, 1 Outs. 1 on.
B. Upton, TB6FlaMillerBot 3: 0-0, 0 Outs. None on.

The complete list of Sunday's homers

WEB GEMS

SIMON SAYS

Simon Says ESPN researcher Mark Simon digs deep, looking for the night's best baseball numbers.

Tonight, he breaks down just how the Rays went about sweeping the Marlins over the weekend. Hint: It was the offense.

Inside The Series
Rays sweep Marlins 3-0
Marlins Rays
Runs 7 15
BA .208 .289
Home runs 2 2
Stolen bases 3 7

SUNDAY'S BEST AND WORST

BEST
John DanksJohn Danks took care of the Cubs, tossing seven shutout innings in the White Sox's 6-0 win. Danks allowed four hits and struck out five, overcoming a bit of wildness on a day when he handed out four walks. In two starts, separated by 11 days, against the Cubs, Danks pitched 14 innings, allowed only one run and picked up two wins.
WORST
Mark Reynoldsl• The Diamondbacks' defense didn't offer starter Max Scherzer much help. Scherzer allowed eight runs in 4 1/3 innings of work, but only three of the runs were earned. Arizona committed four errors. Three of those errors came in the fifth, with Mark Reynolds starting the trouble with an error on the first play of the inning. The Angels went on to score five times on just three hits.

NUMBERS TO KNOW

Roy Halladay Toronto Blue Jays starter Roy Halladay returns Monday to face the Rays after having been on the disabled list since June 13 because of a groin injury. Halladay (2.53 ERA) led the AL in wins (10) and innings pitched (103) at the time he was put on the DL.

Halladay has been on the DL three other times this decade, though never before with a groin injury. He has had success in his first starts off the DL (2-1, 2.71 ERA, 14 strikeouts, two walks).

A pair of examples are also on Halladay's side. Groin injuries didn't hinder Kevin Millwood and Joel Pineiro last season. Both gained a little velocity on their fastball after coming back, and opposing batters had less success against their heaters.

Kevin Millwood and Joel Pineiro
Before/after returning from groin injuries (2008)
Overall Before DL First 3 starts back
Millwood 6-7, 5.58 ERA 3-0, 1.46 ERA
Pineiro 2-3, 4.50 ERA 0-0, 2.37 ERA
Fastball Before DL First 3 starts back
Millwood 90 mph; .343 against 91 mph; .271 against
Pineiro 88 mph; .357 against 89 mph; .286 against

Note: Millwood's stint on the DL was his second of the season.

-- ESPN Stats & Information

FANTASY: PREVIEW OF MONDAY'S GAMES

Adam Madison examines the 12 games on Monday's slate.

Fantasy Madison ranks the pitchers scheduled to take the mound and supplies loads of other information that could help shape your roster for Monday. Daily Notes