2006-07-14 / Sports

Cyclones Holden Aims To Reclaim Hitting Star Form

By Elio Velez


The hitting slump that has tortured Brooklyn Cyclones and Wantagh Long Island native Joe Holden has plagued the slugger for weeks.

In the second go around for Holden in Brooklyn, the hitting prowess that Holden showed in 2005 in which he was named the team's MVP, has gone missing. It's troubling him that he's only hitting .160 in 50 at bats after going through a successful first half at higher Class A Hagerstown.

On a tear at Hagerstown, a full season Class A affiliate of the Mets, Holden was batting over .300. But a month and half ago, he went on a slump that has continued after the Mets sent him back to Brooklyn to help an team offense that was batting just above .200.

"It started off in Hagerstown and it lasted three weeks. Throughout college and last year I didn't go through a slump this long. I am working out in the cages," Holden explained last Monday after not starting in a Cyclones 5-4 win over State College.

"I am just late on every pitch and I can't hit that outside pitch. Pretty much everything that can be wrong with the swing is wrong."

Returning to the starting lineup last Wednesday, Holden did not have the breakout game he was hoping for. He gained a hit in four times at bat and was driven home on an RBI single by Jonathan Schemmel in the eighth inning against Williamsport. Brooklyn took a 4-1 lead and held on to win by that margin to improve their record to

Whenever he gets out of his slump, Holden can be a catalyst at the top of the order which he proved last season for the Cyclones. An .291 average and 15 stolen bases landed him a berth at the first annual NY Penn League All-Star Game at Keypsan Park late August.

One day at a time is the mantra that Holden is repeating to himself to break out of the slump. He doesn't look at his return to Brooklyn as a demotion, even if he's moving down from a higher level team at Hagerstwon.

And he'll have some support from his family, who can make the drive down from Wantagh to see him play.

"I can live at home and see my parents and friends. But at the same time, I miss the guys at Hagerstown," Holden says. "As far as me and the other guys who got moved down, we look at it as a promotion and we can help teach the guys. We can show them that Brooklyn is a tough place to play and try and get the job done and try to help them win."

Notes

The Cyclones are still under the .500 mark at 8-14 at presstime. Their pitching remains solid as the bats try to get out of their early season maliase at the plate. In their 4-1 win over Williamsport last Wednesday, starting pitcher Jake Ruckle continues to sparkle at the mound.

Once again Ruckle went eight innings in his second straight start, allowing one run on five hits before Joseph Smith came on to get his fourth save in the ninth. Brooklyn returns home on Tuesday for a three game series with the Oneonta Tigers.

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