|Art Charles w/ Lakewood in 2013|
Thus far this year, the Threshers have struggled to find a groove and string together anything that could help the team build confidence or show any indication that they are a club that could bounce back and rise in the Florida State League standings.
Following 10 days without a victory, the Threshers busted out of a winless drought this week, downing the Brevard Country Manatees (Milwaukee affiliate), who had served Clearwater a 20-0 defeat the week prior, for back-to-back wins.
Art Charles, the Threshers' first baseman, took time this week to offer his thoughts on the team's struggles and dismal opening month to the 2014 campaign. The six-foot-six 220-pounder, who was acquired from Toronto last year for pitcher Michael Schwimer, spoke about the mental impact the team has dealt with, the coaches' outlook and what the future holds for the team.
Charles is one of seven Threshers offensive regulars that sports a batting average lower than a .240 mark. Thus far this season, Charles is batting .237 with four doubles, one home run and 11 RBI in 26 games.
Read ahead for exclusive quotes from the 23-year-old slugger.
-With the struggles the Threshers have had on the field thus far this season, how are the players dealing with having such a tough time winning?
As you know people deal with adversity and things differently. I can't really speak on how others are dealing with the struggles so far this season besides the fact that day in and day out WE are still working really hard to improve OUR game. Our record may not be where we want it to be right now, but we are still grinding everyday like a championship team does. For me, it's all about staying strong mentally, having a short memory, and focusing in the moment one pitch at a time. I feel that if you do that for nine innings, whether on defense or offense, you will have competed the whole game and left it all on the field. These are all important especially when things aren't going your way because it becomes easy to lose focus and dwell on the negative. I believe we have a good team but we haven't showed it yet. We will bounce back and start playing better.
-A 20-0 loss...does that get under guys' skin more than a normal 4-3 or 6-4 loss? How have you guys tried to bounce back from that as well as the lengthy winless streaks?
A 20-0 loss will mess with you no matter who you are, but it's about what you do after something like that, that will dictate the rest of your season. You can either let that get to you and continue to lose in that fashion or you can pull it together, regroup, and prove to everyone, including yourself, that you are better than that. It was a rough game and season for us thus far but that is just the first month. We aren't the team that we showed in April. I believe we are better than that and the constant work that we put in everyday shows it. Like I said earlier, we have been working on our work and are determined to be better.
-Has there been any change in message or approach from the coaching staff during this tough stretch?
Our coaching staff knows we are better than we are playing and encourage us to stay positive as well as continue to improve our game. They have reminded us that this is the first month of five and we can still do something special. Also that we can't let our past games affect what we do in the future because that it's not about how you start, it's about how you finish. We have to just make the plays, make quality pitches, and swing the bats well in situations.
-You've had a slow start but have still managed to have some good games. With other guys sporting low averages and things, do you think the adjustment to this level has been tough for many of the players including yourself?
It's still early. I know the guys, including myself, would like to be doing better than we are right now offensively but we are all working on things. I know that I am going to hit lot better than I have this far and believe my teammates will as well. Maybe getting adjusted to the pitching is one thing, but the truth is, if you are going to get to the show you can't afford make that excuse because they are all good up there. You just have to find a way to get the job done and help your team win. We have to keep stepping to the plate with confidence knowing that the guy on the mound is in the same league as we are and trying to get to where we want to be, that his best can't beat our best, and the mentality that if it us or him it's going to be us every time. It's the same game we have always played, so there is no reason to add extra pressure on ourselves. Just have to fun and play the game the way it should be played and good things will start happening.