PITTSBURGH -- Despite a trying last month in which he saw his playing time drop dramatically, Ronny Cedeno said on Friday that being taken out of an everyday role might have been exactly what he needed to get back on track.
After starting 57 of the team's first 64 games, Cedeno saw shortstop Bobby Crosby take the majority of the playing time beginning on June 16. Manager John Russell hoped that benching Cedeno would force the 27-year-old infielder to understand the need for better consistency and focus. It also gave Cedeno time to adjust his batting stance -- the goal being that Cedeno would drive more balls -- with hitting coach Don Long.
"I think this has really helped me," Cedeno said, speaking to the events of the past month. "It was a help for me because they're trying to make me a better player. That's what I want. I'm going to try the best I can in the second half to finish strong, hit balls hard, take good at-bats, play with emotion. I want to show them that I'm here for one reason."
Cedeno started four of the final seven games played before the break and Russell left encouraged by what he saw from the shortstop, who finished with five hits in his last 12 first-half at-bats. Three of those went for extra-bases, a notable feat considering Cedeno didn't have an extra-base hit in 58 June at-bats.
"He's been doing a much better job," Russell said. "He's attentive on defense. He's having pretty good at-bats. He's not letting things bother him. That's what we've been striving for with him. Hopefully he's turned the corner.
"Bobby did a nice job when he played, so we feel like we have two guys who can go out there," Russell continued. "But I'd like to get Ronny in that mode that he is now and keep him there. He's a pretty good player when he's like that."
That's not to say that Cedeno, who was back in the starting lineup on Friday, will be the Pirates' definitive starting shortstop immediately. However, Russell has made it clear that Cedeno can earn more regular playing time by showing continued progress with his consistency and maintaining a positive attitude.
"I'm trying to be consistent because that's what they want me to do," Cedeno said. "Sometimes I'm trying to do too much. That's what happens. We have a lot of games left, and I'm going to stay positive. I'm going to trust myself."