Of all active players 24 and younger, no one had more at bats than Beltre's 2,406. This season Beltre didn't draw a walk until his 41st plate appearance. And Beltre's 3.57 pitches per plate appearance were his lowest since his rookie season. Dodgers manager Jim Tracy is becoming increasingly frustrated with Beltre and sent him a stern message a few weeks ago by benching him four times in a span of seven games.
"He's been pampered in this organization, and now they're saying, 'It's time,' " says Dodgers outfielder Brian Jordan. "I think he realizes that now, because he had a frustrating beginning this year and it has really challenged him."
For the time being it appears L.A. will stick with Beltre, who can become a free agent after the 2004 season, instead of trying to trade for another third baseman. "There are a lot of players in the big leagues who you have to have patience with," says general manager Dan Evans. "There's no science to when these guys [snap out of it]. They do it at different stages."
Beltre says that he's not going to make any drastic changes to his approach at the plate. "Last year I would struggle for a week and then start to change things," he says. "That would just get me into a deeper slump, so I would try to go back to another thing to get me out of it—and that would get me in even deeper."
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