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Second-half struggles new to Dye

Second-half struggles new to Dye

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CHICAGO -- Since arriving in Chicago as a free agent prior to the 2005 season, outfielder Jermaine Dye has been one of the most consistent forces with the bat in the entire American League.

Consistent, that is, until the second half of the 2009 season.

"I can't remember having this kind of a struggle in the second half before," Dye said before Monday's series opener against Minnesota. "You work, and sometimes it just doesn't happen.

"You run out of ideas. But at the same time, you have to keep fighting and keep a level head and keep going out there, and hopefully things turn around."

Unfortunately for Dye, there isn't much time to turn around his fortunes at the plate this season. The 35-year-old veteran, who is just three years removed from hitting .315 with 44 home runs and 120 RBIs, has just a .171 average over 193 second-half at-bats.

During the months of August and September, Dye has a combined two home runs, two doubles and 11 RBIs. In May alone, Dye had seven home runs and 21 RBIs.

Dye's great first-half showing makes this present slump even harder to figure. He batted .302 with 20 home runs and 55 RBIs before the All-Star Game in St. Louis.

"It's a slump. It's just a slump that came at the wrong time, during the second half," Dye said. "I was going off to having a great year and I fell into a rut. In talking to other players, everyone has been through it before.

"There are times where you go through 1-for-12 or 2-for-20 [slumps] and bounce out of it. You understand that's part of the game, but to struggle for a whole half, I've never done it before. I never really knew how to deal with it. It's a first for me. You learn from it."

The 2007 season pretty much marks the only other time Dye has faced these sorts of struggles with the White Sox. He hit .214 before that All-Star break, but still had his power stroke, with 12 home runs and 14 doubles. At that point, Dye also was battling through injury problems and future contract uncertainty.

That uncertainty ended on Aug. 18, 2007, when Dye and the White Sox agreed to a two-year contract extension, with a mutual option of $12 million for 2010. The locale of where Dye will be playing in 2010 has not contributed to his struggles, and in the mind of Dye and hitting coach Greg Walker, there's no question he can still perform and perform at a high level.

"I'll get in the offseason and see what happens because I can't control that," said Dye of interest from the White Sox or other teams. "Right now, the season is still going on, so I'll figure out what I want to do once this season is over."

"He has some really good years in front of him," said Walker. "The way he prepares, his professionalism. Whether it's with us, I have no idea. It's not my department. I understand the contract situation, but it doesn't enter into my daily plan. Jermaine has been great for us, and I have deep feelings about what he's done for us and the organization."

Monday's lineup had Dye back in right field, carrying his .250 season average into the sixth spot. His goal stands the same as the past month or so -- try to contribute in any way possible to a victory. Even if the slump has become more mental than physical, at this point, Dye has not let the extended struggles break him down.

"Occasionally, I've had my outbursts in the dugout or something," Dye said. "It's like every now and then.

"At some point you begin to laugh about it and continue to try different things. Sooner or later, you are always going to convert back to what you do best and get into a good routine and hopefully come out of it."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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