10/12/08 4:51 AM ET
Longoria: It was 'just a matter of time'
Rookie's trick to slump-busting is hard work, believing in self
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
The Rays rookie slugger entered the game in the midst of a 1-for-16 slump, during which he had not gotten a hit in his previous 13 at-bats. But all of that changed quickly in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series when Longoria stroked a two-run homer in his first at-bat.
"I always believe in myself," Longoria said. "I always have the thought process that it's just a matter of time before I come out of a slump, and I think that's the way you've got to be. You've got to believe in yourself. And I knew it was just a matter of time and that one at-bat could get things clicking again."
Longoria's home run was his third of the postseason, which is tied for the second-highest total by a rookie. Others to accomplish the feat were Atlanta's Chipper Jones (1995) and Andruw Jones (1996), the Cardinals' Willie McGee (1982), and the Yankees' Charlie Keller (1939).
The flavor of the game didn't hurt Longoria's cause either.
"It was one of those days where the hitters were on and the pitchers were having trouble getting guys out," Longoria said. "It was back and forth the whole game. And we knew if we had a one-run lead or they had a one-run lead, it wasn't going to be enough. We had to keep the pressure on and we did a good job of it all day."
During his brief slump, Longoria continued to use a drill in which tennis balls with black and red numbers are shot at him at speeds of up to 130 mph.
"I've been doing it all year," Longoria said. "It's just for vision and tracking and being able to recognize pitches. I think it's a great tool, it allows me to see the ball better and slow the game down. For me, it does the trick."
Longoria never looked panicked during his four-game slumber, but he did seem pleased with how he performed Saturday night.
"It just goes back to being able to produce when it counts and when the pressure's on and the spotlight is on you," Longoria said. "Fortunately, I was able to be presented with those moments again with guys on base and was able to come through again today."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.