Recently voted by his peers as one of the nicest players in baseball in a Sports Illustrated poll, Raul Ibanez is the type of guy that people want to see succeed. And he is type of player that the Philadelphia Phillies need to succeed.
But 2011 did not start out the way that either the Phillies or Ibanez had hoped. In the month of April, Ibanez hit only .161 with 10 RBI and one home run. His on-base percentage was .247, well below his .345 career average.
Things got so bad for Ibanez at the plate that he even endured a near record setting 0-for-35 slump. That streak tied the second worst hitless streak for a Phillie; Joe Morgan went 0-35 in 1983 and Desi Relaford still holds the number one spot with his 0-36 in 1998.
Ibanez finally broke the streak on May 3 and has been on a tear ever since. He is hitting .323 in May with five home runs and 15 RBI. And the month is not over yet.
Ibanez's resurgence is likely due to a combination of things. According to Mandy Housenick of "The Morning Call," he started a brand new routine this offseason with a new trainer and even a new diet. After discovering that he had severe food allergies back in the 2009 offseason, Ibanez sought the help of a nutritionist to adjust his diet.
It turns out that the dairy and gluten allergies were causing Ibanez muscle soreness and exhaustion. Once he eliminated the allergens from his diet, Ibanez began to feel healthy again.
This discovery led Ibanez to completely change his offseason training routine after the 2010 season. The change in both diet and exercise plans seem to be major contributing factors to his turnaround at the plate this year.
The slump in April, therefore, could be the result of Ibanez adjusting to his new routine. If that is the case, the Phillies can look forward to a lot more production from their left fielder.