As the Rays head into their series against the reigning National League Champion Cardinals,  they are facing the same problem as St. Louis - although it isn't easy to see when you look at the standings - they just aren't hitting. 

Kevin Wheeler of 101ESPN in St. Louis joined The Sports Page this morning to preview the series which begins tonight at 7:10 (with coverage starting at 6:00 with the Suncoast Hyundai Inside Pitch) from the Trop and described the same struggles at the plate for the Cardinals the Rays are having. 

"You've got a handful of guys that have long track records of success that really haven't hit to their old levels," Wheeler said. "You mentioned (Matt) Holiday, Allen Craig is another guy that really hasn't hit to the level you'd expect him too, Yadier Molina had a great April, but since early May hasn't hit much. 

"Best I can come up with, guys - and maybe it's the same kind of idea that's going on with the Rays - you've got some guys that got off slow so then they start pressing. And then once you start pressing, your mindset changes, you put a little too much pressure on yourself, you can't relax and then it starts to snowball. Because there's really no other reason why several players - three, four, five guys - would all struggle at the same time if it wasn't something between the ears."

Wheeler says whether it's St. Louis or Tampa Bay, the hitting coach isn't the one to blame.

"The hitting coach will always be the first guy that people go back to, but I think part of the problem is that most people misunderstand exactly what a hitting coach does," Wheeler said. "They're not over there pulling guys to the side saying, 'Get in here watch video,' 'Come on let's take 100 swings,' I mean they're really there for the players to approach them when they're struggling. So the players come up to them.

"Then they're there really kind of [to] reinforce some of the fundamental theories of what they're trying to do and build gameplans. Most of the time the hitter's going wrong because the hitter's going wrong."

 

To hear all of Wheeler's insight on the Cardinals and the upcoming series, click the iHeart player below: 

 

 

 

Photo: Getty Images