Shane Petersen knows better to join his teammates in a clubhouse conversation when the subject of discussion has anything to do with batting slumps. The Sacramento River Cats outfielder would not have much to say anyway.
The 26-year-old leads the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in hits with 164 and is 10th in batting average at .308. He has gone hitless in consecutive games just three times this season, with his longest slump being all of three games.
When his teammates bemoan their hitting woes, Petersen takes an intentional walk away from joining them to sing the blues. Who wants to hear him talk about having a bad night at the plate when he has had so few this season.
“You’ve got to watch you complain to,” joked Petersen, who also leads the River Cats in doubles (38), runs (100) and RBI (89).
Petersen was 0-for-4 on Friday in the River Cats’ 7-5 loss to the Reno Aces at Raley Field. The Aces have won the first two games of the five-game series to take a one-game lead over the River Cats in the PCL Northern Division.
His three-game drought was Aug. 5, 7 and 8. The River Cats were off Aug. 6, giving Petersen a much-needed break.
“I knew I was struggling. I wasn’t feeling good,” Petersen admitted. “You’re going to struggle. It’s a long season.”
The 144-game season ends Monday. Petersen hopes to join the A’s when major-league teams expand their rosters to 40 players. He played in two games with the A’s last season and collected one hit in seven at-bats.
Petersen has become known for his durability, having played in 134 of Sacramento’s 141 games. That he has avoided a prolonged slump despite the inevitable fatigue is a testament to the mental strength he has had to develop.
“I take it day to day. I concentrate on what I can do today,” he said. “I try not to think too much (about his hitting), but it does get in your head a little bit. You think about it, but you don’t want to think about it too much.”
One possible knock against Petersen is his lack of power. He has hit 11 homers this season after setting a career high with 12 in 2013. Hitters can be obsessed with numbers, but Petersen isn’t when it comes to the long ball.
Petersen went 24 games without a homer until he hit three in the River Cats’ 10-9 win at Albuquerque on July 17. He then went 17 games before hitting another one. As long as he can contribute, he is not going to worry.
“People want to talk about that, but I stay away from it,” he said. “I’m not going to change anything I do to hit home runs. I didn’t try to hit home runs last year and I had 12. I have enough pop if I hit the ball on the barrel.”
This is Petersen’s second full season in Sacramento after arriving midway through the 2012 season from Double-A Midland (Texas). The A’s acquired Petersen and two other players in 2009 when they traded Matt Holliday to the St. Louis Cardinals.
There is a chance that Petersen will return to Sacramento in 2015 even though he has improved after batting .251 in 2013. There is also a chance the A’s will find room for him on their roster. He will take his future as it comes.
“Everyone here wants to be up there,” he said. “There’s nothing I can say and nothing I can do off the field to make it happen. It’s all about timing.”