Maybe it's the bat

Mike Fontenot isn’t putting his left sock on his right foot, or walking backwards, but he did decide to switch bats on Tuesday, and borrowed one of Aaron Miles. Fontenot is trying to find a way out of his funk.

He entered Tuesday’s game against the Cardinals batting .204 overall, and 1-for-29 in his last nine games. He was 0-for-16 in his last five.

“If you want to look at at-bats that are worrisome, it’s Fontenot’s at-bats,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. “We haven’t seen the better approach. Gerald [Perry, hitting coach] and I talked and suggested a couple things to him. One, make sure he’s balanced up at home plate. Balance has a lot to do with it.”

The Cubs are counting on Fontenot, especially with Aramis Ramirez out four to six weeks because of a dislocated left shoulder.

Fontenot does have five home runs, but none since May 3. He has two extra base hits this month, as his average has dropped from .250 on May 1 to .204.

“Everyone says it’s a long season,” Fontenot said. “You try not to put too much pressure on yourself so if you have an 0-for-4 game, you get too down in the dumps. That’s going to be a long season if you do that all the time. It’s a little disappointing but you get over it, forget about it and come to the field the next day.”

He tested one of Miles bats on Tuesday in the cage, and decided to use that during the game.

“I don’t feel like they’re doing anything different [pitching-wise],” Fontenot said. “I’m just missing fastballs — not that they’re right down the middle but I’m fouling them off and things like that. I don’t feel like they’ve figured me out or anything.

“I’m getting pitches to hit and I’m just fouling them off,” he said. “I’m feeling pretty decent at the plate, I’m just trying to maybe get on top of the ball a little more. I’ve noticed I’ve been swinging under a lot of pitches so I’m fouling them off instead of putting them in play.”

He admits to being a little frustrated.

“A little frustrated but I’m here coming to work every day, trying to figure things out, watching the film, get input from other guys and going from there,” he said.

One thing Fontenot is trying to avoid is putting too much thought into his at-bats.

“Sometimes [thinking too much] can hurt you,” he said. “I don’t think I’m thinking too much, I don’t think.”

Think about that.

“When it comes down to it,” he said, “you get here and work early on your swing but once you get into the game, if you’re still thinking about ‘Well, my hands are here, my foot’s here,’ that can hurt you. You just have to get up there and compete.”

— Carrie Muskat

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