Jacobs getting fewer at-bats
Royals slugger sitting with Ks up, homers down
BALTIMORE -- Playing time has been sporadic lately for Mike Jacobs, the Royals' left-handed designated hitter. When he got the call on Tuesday night against the Orioles, it was just his sixth starting assignment in the 11 games since the All-Star break.
Jacobs went into the game with a .219 average, 13 home runs and 33 RBIs, not close to the robust power production the Royals expected when they acquired him from the Florida Marlins for reliever Leo Nunez in the offseason.
From being a focal point of the club at the dawn of the season, Jacobs has slipped into a part-time player as the sun starts to descend in the horizon.
He might be losing playing time but hasn't lost his confidence.
"We've got two more months, and if I can play regularly, I can end up with over 20 [home runs], no problem," Jacobs said. "I could probably lead the team in homers, could probably lead the team in RBIs."
As Tuesday night's game began, Jacobs was tied with Miguel Olivo for the club lead in homers (13) but was 13 RBIs behind David DeJesus' 46.
Jacobs noted that he homered in his last game before and his first game after the All-Star break.
"I felt right after the All-Star break I started swinging the bat a little better," Jacobs said. "But again I wasn't playing very much. It just boils down to get an opportunity to play again and hopefully turn it around and make it hard to keep me out of the lineup."
Jacobs' first five starts this season were at first base, but that job was quickly ceded to Billy Butler, and Jacobs went to the DH role.
"Somehow I got out of that really quick," Jacobs said. "I don't know how that happened."
Manager Trey Hillman used a pinch-hitter for Jacobs in three of his previous five starts since the break.
"His productivity has not been what we anticipated," Hillman said. "His batting average has been lower than we anticipated. The strikeouts are high."
Yep, Jacobs fanned 83 times in his 269 at-bats before Tuesday night. Not a total surprise; last year he struck out 119 times in 477 at-bats while banging 32 homers for the Marlins.
For a while, during Interleague Play, the Royals had Jacobs try to shorten his swing and go to the opposite field more often. But now he's back to, as Hillman put it, "What got him here."
Jacobs sees the league change as being one disadvantage in his first year with the Royals.
"Part of the struggles is, one, obviously it's a new league and I'm pretty much seeing new guys almost every time I go out there," Jacobs said. "When you're in a league for as long as I was in the National League and you start seeing guys for the third and fourth year, it's a little easier to hit those guys because you have a little more of an idea. When you're facing guys for the first time at this level, it's pretty tough. They definitely have the advantage."
Jacobs wants a chance to play more and there seems to be just one way he'll get that.
"What you want to see from Jake is a lot of hard impact and he's hit a lot of fly balls that haven't been impacted too good," Hillman said.
That didn't happen on Tuesday night, however. Jacobs went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the ninth.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.