CLEVELAND -- If Shelley Duncan had a bad day at the plate early in the season, he didn't think too much about it. He'd be back in the lineup as the Indians starting left fielder the next day with a chance to put the last one behind him.
Now that he's not an everyday player, Duncan usually has several days to think about his last game. That hasn't been a good thing for Duncan lately, who has started to struggle with the mental part of the game.
"It's always tough when you have sporadic playing time," Duncan said. "Sometimes it's trickier getting the stick going. It's more of a little mind game sometimes. Sometimes when you think about it too much it just hinders the process, instead of just going out there and hacking your way out of it."
Duncan started the season on a tear after being the team's Opening Day starter in left. In nine games before the Indians signed left fielder Johnny Damon on April 17, Duncan hit .333 with two homers and six RBIs. He had drawn 10 walks and struck out only six times to that point.
But since the Indians made the move for Damon and changed Duncan's role, his numbers have suffered. Entering Sunday, Duncan was hitting only .163 with two home runs and six RBIs in 36 games since the Damon signing and, unlike earlier in the season, he hasn't been patient at the plate. He's drawn only nine walks and has struck out 29 times during the current stretch.
"It's a tough job being in the role for everybody," Duncan said. "If you're trying to get things going and you have one game, and then you have a couple days to sit on it, sometimes you over-think yourself in that period. It's tough. Anybody in that spot could tell you that."
Duncan, who was 0-for-3 and failed to come through in a run-scoring situation on Saturday, was out of the lineup for Sunday's game against the Pirates. He will likely continue to see at least some time in left, however, because Damon hasn't been the answer thus far. The veteran outfielder entered Sunday hitting just .175 in 35 games this season.
Duncan believes he'll eventually break out of his current slump.
"It'll come, it'll come," he repeated. "I'm very confident it'll come."