Former major league second baseman Steve Sax can relate to the throwing problems of Houston Astros star Jose Altuve.
Sax experienced major issues during his career so he cringed while watching Altuve make three throwing errors in a two-game span of the American League Championship Series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
"I can feel for Jose," Sax told ESPN. "There's nothing worse in the world. It's the most lonely place to be. It's embarrassing. It's just awful. I hope he can grasp this as soon as possible because this thing is very simple. It's right in front of him. So many people are going to say, 'Oh, Jose, you have a mental block.' He doesn't. He has a temporary loss of confidence.
"It has nothing to do with his mental state. Something triggered him to start questioning his ability; that's why he's doing this. When he gets his confidence, this will disappear."
Altuve committed two throwing errors in Game 2 and added another in Game 3. Houston trails the series 3-0 entering Wednesday's game.
Sax's problems reached a zenith in 1983 when he committed a career-worst 30 errors -- mostly on throws -- for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
There was no such thing as an easy toss for Sax during that time. Every routine throw was a challenge for a player who was a five-time All-Star during his 14 big league seasons with the Dodgers (1981-88), New York Yankees (1989-91) and Chicago White Sox (1992-94).
By 1986, Sax had reduced his error count to 16. He would later commit just 10 in back-to-back seasons with the Yankees in 1989 and 1990.
But he is well aware he is still associated with his throwing woes. And now Altuve is under the microscope for similar issues under the postseason glare.
"It's the only thing on his mind," Sax said. "It's all he's thinking about right now. He's the loneliest person in the world, and it's hard because you're a professional athlete and he's one of the best players in the game. I'd advise him that there's nothing wrong, there's nothing crazy. It's actually simple if you just get out of your own way. There is an end to this.
"The problem is he's going to bed with this, when he's eating it's the only thing on his mind. He wakes up thinking of this. It's a terrible spot to be in."
Astros manager Dusty Baker was a teammate on the Dodgers when Sax had his worst throwing season. Now he is seeing Altuve struggling with the same issue.
"Nobody feels worse than Jose," Baker said of Altuve, "because he takes it very seriously, and he takes it to heart. We're giving him all of the support we can. He's one of ours."
Sax, who was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1982, batted .281 with 54 homers, 550 RBIs and 444 stolen bases in 1,769 career games.
--Field Level Media