John Buck has never been confused for a great hitter. Although he hit .281 with 20 homers and 66 RBI when he was an All-Star in Toronto in 2010, his career average in nine seasons is .237.
But even Buck admits it has been tough to look up this season and see exactly how low his batting average has plummeted.
Im not going to say Im not human, and I didnt look up and it didnt bother me, said Buck, who went into Fridays series opener against the Phillies hitting .181 with seven homers and 20 RBI in 55 games.
I think it literally has gotten to the point that its so low that even if I get four hits a game, its still going to be low.
The good news is the worst might finally be behind him.
The 31-year-old veteran catcher has started to pick up the pace over the past two weeks and is hitting .313 with two homers and six RBI in five games over the homestand, including hitting the game-tying home run in Wednesdays come-from-behind win over the Cardinals.
Buck, who was hitting a season-worst .160 on June 15, said if you watch the video of his at-bats from before this homestand to now you wouldnt be able to tell the difference in his swing because his hands are only a fraction of a bit higher when he puts the barrel on the ball.
A lot of the pitches Im hitting now I was fouling straight back before, Buck said. ... It was staying the course and continuing to believe in my approach, that I was going to get back to being me.
Buck said what has helped him through his offensive struggles this season is the notion that he can help the team in other ways by calling a good game behind the plate and by having quality at-bats and drawing walks. He has drawn 33 walks this season. He had 16 total in 2010 and 54 last season.
One thing about John is he never takes his offense to his defense. A lot of players do, manager Ozzie Guillen said. Buck just goes out there and separates one thing from another. He knows his main job for us is our pitching staff. So far hes been great. I know its been a tough month. But if you look at it overall, in general, hes been very good.
• Guillen said the two mishaps the Marlins had in back-to-back games with pitchers throwing wide of second base on balls hit back to the mound were a result of shortstop Jose Reyes taking too long to get to the bag and Carlos Zambrano and Heath Bell trying to turn a double play too quickly.
Make it easier. Just get one out, Guillen said.
• Guillen said the combination he is using in center field between Justin Ruggiano and Scott Cousins provides the Marlins with the best defense they have had all year long. Sometimes you wonder why those guys play in Triple A, Guillen said.
• Saturday: Marlins LHP Mark Buehrle (6-8, 3.55 ERA) vs. Philadelphia Phillies LHP Cole Hamels (10-3, 3.03), 4:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
• Sunday: Marlins RHP Ricky Nolasco (6-6, 4.78) vs. Phillies RHP Joe Blanton (7-6, 4.87), 1:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
• Scouting report: Buehrle is 0-2 with a 5.56 ERA in two starts this season against the Phillies. Hamels is 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA against the Marlins in 2012.