Didi Gregorius has explanation, but not solution, to his funk

WASHINGTON — Didi Gregorius was trying to explain the conundrum as best he could, even if he didn’t quite understand it himself.

The Yankees shortstop, mired in a 1-for-41 slump — with stretches of 0-for-30 and 0-for-10 on either side of a lone single in the fifth inning Saturday at Yankee Stadium — said he believes he is not getting pitched to any differently now than he was during his torrid start to the season. He also said he has been hitting the ball hard, even if he has little to show for it.

Gregorius paused after trying to find another way to say the same thing in a different way, then headed straight to the bottom line.

“I’m just not getting hits,” he said with a laugh.

Gregorius was robbed of a game-and-a-half worth of chances to break out of his drought Wednesday as the Yankees and Nationals were washed out yet again at Nationals Park.

The Yankees have carried on without Gregorius making his usual impact, winning six of eight games during his slump, with the ninth contest stuck in a 3-3 tie and set to be continued June 18. But that hasn’t provided Gregorius much solace as he tries to work out of the skid.

“I’m not happy with the at-bats because I’m not helping the team, to be honest,” Gregorius said. “There’s always some ups, there’s always downs. The downs, you don’t want it to beat you.”

Gregorius thought back to a similar slump he went through with the Diamondbacks in 2013, which he said was more frustrating than this one because it was his first year with the team. He had separate stretches of 3-for-37 and 4-for-32 over the course of two months that season.

Now, with more experience to lean on, he believes he’s better equipped mentally to handle such a skid.

“I know this game is a game of failure,” he said. “That’s when you learn from it. When you accept that, that you’re not going to get a base hit every time, I think it’s more manageable than trying to explode for some reason and go up there next at-bat doing the same thing.”

Gregorius insisted he has not changed his approach at all from when he put up a slash line of .333/.418/.712 with 10 home runs through his first 31 games and earning AL Player of the Month honors for April. He had nearly as many games without a hit during that start (10) as he has during this stretch (eight).

Before batting fifth Tuesday, Gregorius had been slotted into the three-hole for 22 of the previous 23 games — the lone exception when he bumped up to bat second on a day off for Aaron Judge.

Gregorius hit sixth on Opening Day and bounced around from the cleanup spot to fifth after that, so he said the move back down the lineup didn’t matter to him at all.

Manager Aaron Boone said the different lineup Tuesday had little to do with the lefty-swinging Gregorius’ slump.

“Being in the National League and up against a lefty, not necessarily having our normal flow to the lineup, I just thought it was a time to stack our righties against the lefty,” Boone said. “So I think a lot of it just had to do with the scenario of not having a DH for the first time.”

Still, Boone said he was encouraged by Gregorius’ recent at-bats because he has been hitting the ball hard — and that he has handled the mental side of it even better.

“Just from a makeup standpoint, he’s great,” Boone said. “He loves to play, he’s tough, he’s prepared. I think he deals with all that baseball throws at you — and baseball’s going to throw bumps in the road at you, even when you’re in the middle of being a great player.”

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