Duffy Struggling

Duffy Struggling

During the off season the prevailing sentiment was that Chris Duffy would be the Pirates everyday centerfielder at the start of the 2006 campaign. Things haven't worked out that way for the young outfielder.

He had an interrupted spring training, battling a shoulder problem early in camp and then being beaned by Red Sox hurler Curt Schilling causing him to miss some playing time in Florida. He had a poor spring striking out 21 times and that prompted manager Jim Tracy to say that Duffy and young outfielder Nate McLouth would split time in centerfield until one or the other got hot and took the job.

"We have two kids there," Tracy said. "Both are very competent kids -- smart enough to understand what we're talking about -- and they will figure it out. We've got to find opportunities for both of them. We'll take it a day at a time and go from there. As I've said all along, with these two guys on the club, I don't want to see either one of them sit for too long a time and not participate. It's advantageous to both of them to do it that way."

Duffy was off to a 1-for-13 start before getting a hit in Saturday's 11-9 loss to the Reds. Entering Sunday's action he is 2-for-18 with seven strikeouts and a .111 batting average.

He has been spending a lot of time at the computer and in the batting cage.

"I was comparing myself to what I was doing last year," said Duffy, who batted .341 and had a .385 on-base percentage as a rookie before he was shut down with a hamstring injury. "I'm trying to get myself right."

"Last year, I was working the count and doing what I needed to do," said Duffy. "This year, I'm a little antsy, a little jumpy, and not letting the ball to come to me. I think it will take some time, but I'm pretty confident it will come around."

Duffy put in a lot of work before spring training even started.

"I was in Florida since January 8," Duffy explained. "Staying with a physical therapy program and taking in a lot of fluids and getting used to the weather. I was kind of setback a little bit and I didn't hit nearly as early as I usually do. My timing was off. Obviously I'm hoping it will get better, a timing thing is just a timing thing. I hadn't seen a lot of pitching since August and my timing was a little off during the spring."

Even though he was penciled in as the centerfield before the spring started - Duffy has never taken anything for granted.

"It's always going to be like that with me," Duffy stated. "I wouldn't even care if Tracy came up to me and said you are the starting centerfielder - nothing changes with me. I'm going out and I'm going to win a position and win a spot and it's good for the younger guys to see that and they see work ethic and you have to realize that some of the younger kids in our system may idolize you or you're where they want to be and they will pay attention and see how work is getting done and I feel it's real important for me to play the game I always play, which is a hundred percent."

Duffy's early season troubles appear to have him pressing a little bit, but as he has always done he believes that hard work will provide the answer.

"I've been coming in for early hitting every day. I'll work it out."

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