Mason: Michael Chavis diagnoses what's led to first big league slump

Michael Chavis has been working through his first big league slump, and believes he's primed to break out of it. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

BOSTON — Mired in a slump so severe that he was dropped from the leadoff spot to the No. 9 hole, Michael Chavis heard something he wasn't expecting. 

"Congratulations," Steve Pearce said. "You're in your first major league slump. I hope you have 20 more in your career." 

Thinking maybe he'd misheard Pearce, the rookie was perplexed. 

"That means you're playing in this league for a long time, bud," Pearce told him. "So you've gotta get used to it." 

Chavis laughed and appreciated the levity his locker mate could bring to the situation. Pearce sees himself in Chavis — a short but versatile right-handed infielder — and has been trying to do whatever he can to ease his transition to the majors. 

"Pearce has been like a big brother since I've been here, so he's been helping a lot," Chavis said. 

After a torrid first month, Chavis has been leaning on the veterans as he's hit some adversity. In mid-May, Astros manager A.J. Hinch told reporters before a series that they were going to pound Chavis with fastballs, and in the four weeks since, he's hit .208 with 42 strikeouts in 105 plate appearances. 

Chavis doesn't think he's struggling because teams have changed their attack against him. The rookie believes it's what he's been doing to himself. 

"The elevated fastballs have kind of been consistent (all year)," Chavis said. "That's not really a huge adjustment. They've been pitching me kind of similarly. It's more so that I got away from myself. I started trying to do too much with that elevated fastball, expanded a little bit, and then I just got in my own head, honestly."

Chasing heaters up out of the strike zone got Chavis all out of whack, and triggered a domino effect on low offspeed pitches, too.

"The way it works is if you're struggling with something, obviously they're going to keep working with that," Chavis said. "In the past I've gotten elevated fastballs, it's been something that they've used, but when you're able to lay off that pitch obviously it's a little easier. When I started expanding and chasing, it exposed me down in the zone as well, so it kind of just coagulated into something else."

So how does one snap out of that? 

If you've been watching the games closely, you may have seen Chavis scribbling away in a notebook after each at-bat. It's a system Chavis has long used to keep his mind clear and relaxed.

Once the book snaps shut, the last at-bat is officially finished, and he can move on to the next one. He's hoping leaving the old swings behind him will be beneficial now. 

"My notebook has been a big part of it," Chavis said. "Just working with the guys here, getting some advice on the day-to-day aspects of it and working with the hitting coaches on moving on, moving at-bat to at-bat and staying within myself. A lot of it is just a learning experience." 

And Chavis is eager to learn from anyone and everyone around him.

"That right there is the reason why I think he's going to play for a long time," Pearce said. "He's not stubborn. He wants to learn. He wants to get better. He comes here every day. He gets here early. And he works. He works hard. You can't help but pull for a guy like that.

"And with his personality, I think that's going to make him achieve the highest levels in this game, because he is open for advice. He is always looking to get better."

Chris Mason is a Red Sox beat writer for the Eagle-Tribune and CNHI Sports Boston. Email him at cmason@northofboston.com, and follow him on Twitter at @ByChrisMason