MINNEAPOLIS -- Jason Kipnis sat in front of his locker on Sunday morning with his headphones on and his legs up. The Indians second baseman was doing all he could to relax and focus on anything but his recent slump in the batter's box.
"It'll be a nice mental break from baseball today," Kipnis said.
Cleveland manager Manny Acta gave Kipnis a day off, putting utility man Brent Lillibridge in the lineup as the second baseman for the Tribe's tilt against the Twins. Kipnis is not the type of player to ask out of the lineup, but the second baseman sure sounded like he was fine with taking some time to regroup.
Dating back to June 18, Kipnis has hit .246 (30-for-122) with no home runs and 15 RBIs in 34 games for the Indians. Once Cleveland's leading home run threat, the second baseman entered Sunday's action without a long ball in his last 126 at-bats. In the past 34 games, Kipnis at least has more walks (21) than strikeouts (20) and a respectable .356 on-base percentage.
On the season, Kipnis is hitting .272 with 11 homers, 13 doubles and 56 RBIs through 99 games.
"Nobody knows that I haven't hit a home run in over a month more than me right now," Kipnis said. "The worst part is I don't know what changed or what went into it or anything. I haven't been doing anything different, but sometimes you drive the ball and sometimes you don't.
"I just kind of put myself in a little quicksand. It's kind of like the more you struggle to get out of it, the worse it gets. Right now, I'm trying to do too much. I need to just get my head in it and just go back to swinging."
Kipnis noted that pitchers have been approaching him differently than earlier in the season. He has been seeing fewer fastballs and has been given a steady dose of offspeed pitches when ahead in the count. He thinks that might be related to his move to the third spot in the lineup, but it could also simply be that pitchers are now more familiar with him.
"He's obviously more known now," Acta said. "When a guy comes into the league, people challenge him and see what he can do. After he proves to them that he can swing the bat, they'll approach him differently. Now it's his turn to adjust back. But if he's walking, he's doing the right thing. At least he's not chasing pitches out of the zone."