Two of the Rockies’ bright spots in an ugly season have fizzled recently.
Shortstop Trevor Story, perhaps playing his final year with the Rockies, has scuffled in the batter’s box. So, too, has emerging outfielder Raimel Tapia, who came out on fire to start 2021.
Over the past seven games, Story is slashing .185/.267/.185 with no homers and 11 strikeouts. And Tapia’s fared even worse, slashing .148/.273/.185 in the same time frame to drop his once-robust average to .284 entering Colorado’s Tuesday night game in San Diego.
“With Trev, he’s what we call in-between,” manager Bud Black explained. “He’s behind the fastball, and ahead of the offspeed. So in other words, his timing’s off. It’s a tough spot to be in, and (Sunday) was a tough game for him (with four strikeouts).”
Story, who has aspirations to win his first Gold Glove after being a finalist in 2019, has also made five errors so far this year. That included an uncharacteristic gaffe in Monday’s series opener at Petco Park, when the shortstop had a grounder go through his legs.
While the Rockies hope for Story to re-find his all-star rhythm, Black said Tapia has been struggling because he’s “being a little bit overly aggressive and expanding the zone.”
“That last at-bat (Monday), it look like a pitch below the zone and he hit it on the ground to first base,” Black said. “He did that a number of times (the last series) against the Reds where he expanded the zone down and also expanded the zone up. With Tapia, it’s more about strike zone judgement and plate discipline. When he goes into a little bit of a funk like he is now, it’s usually him trying to get out of it by being overly aggressive and chasing hits.”
Tapia has chased 38.5% of pitches outside the zone this season, which ranks first on the Rockies and 19th among all hitters in baseball. Tapia’s connected on 79.1% of those chases, but Black believes he needs to be even more disciplined in his approach.
“He’s built to hit, but there’s got so be some selectivity in there for ‘Tap,’ ” Black said.
The left-handed Tapia was not in the starting lineup Tuesday as the Rockies faced San Diego southpaw Blake Snell. Black said that when the Dominican is struggling, “less is more, generally speaking.”
“He’s a gifted hitter, and a lot of this comes naturally,” Black said. “So a lot of times, it’s best if he gets a (break) from starting. That seems to get him right, as opposed to getting in the cage and messing with his mechanics or anything. We found out that a day off here and there for Tapia helps him, and helps him to not overthink things.”
Rockies re-instate Cron. Colorado brought C.J. Cron off the injured list ahead of Tuesday night’s game and optioned right-hander Antonio Santos to Triple-A Albuquerque in a corresponding move.
After a slow start to 2021, Cron emerged as one of Colorado’s hottest hitters before a lower back strain landed him on the 10-day injured list May 11 (retroactive to May 7). He is slashing .290/.394/.889 with an .889 OPS, five homers and 15 RBIs.
“Statistically, he was one of our better players (before the injury) if you look at the OPS and you look at other (traditional metrics),” Black said. “Once he got going, he and (Ryan) McMahon were probably our most dangerous hitters. When he went down, he was really in a good spot…. Hopefully he can recapture that swing and that performance he was showing before he got injured.”
Rodgers update. Second baseman Brendan Rodgers has played four games in Triple-A so far while recovering from a hamstring injury he suffered during spring training.
Black said Rodgers is “really close” to re-joining the Rockies for his 2021 debut.
“We’ll get back to getting (McMahon) to third (on a regular basis), and Rodgers will play second,” Black said. “And Rodgers can play short, because if Trev needs a (break), Rodgers can play short. He’s a natural shortstop.
“(Rodgers) had some games down in extended spring training, he had some simulated games (before going out on rehab assignment). He hit against Kyle (Freeland), against (Yency) Almonte… Tuesday will be his fifth game in Triple-A, so he’s getting closer.”
‘Topes manager honored. Albuquerque manager Warren Schaeffer received the seventh annual P.J. Carey Player Development Award, the club announced Tuesday.
The award honors a player-development staff member in the organization, and is named in honor of the longtime Rockies coach who passed away in 2012 and spent 13 years managing Colorado’s rookie and Class-A teams.
Schaeffer has been with Colorado for eight seasons and is in his first year managing the Isotopes after leading the Rockies’ coaching staff at the alternate training site in 2020. He was previously Double-A Hartford’s manager in 2018 and ’19, and began his coaching career as a hitting coach for short-season Tri-City in 2013.
“What I’ve grown to appreciate about Schaeffer is that he’s hard-working, he’s diligent, he’s organized, he’s on top of things,” Black said. “I know nothing is left to any imagination with him — I don’t worry about anything that he’s in charge of. He’s a good (talent) evaluator, and being around big-league players in big-league camp the last few years has helped him (in that regard).”
Schaeffer was originally a 38th-round draft pick by the Rockies in 2007 and reached as high as Triple-A before retiring and going into coaching.
Rockies RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez (2-1, 4.79) at Padres RHP Joe Musgrove (3-4, 2.86)
2:10 p.m. Wednesday, Petco Park
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: KOA 850 AM/94.1 FM
Gonzalez is coming off the best start of his Rockies tenure and second-best outing of his career (next to a complete-game shutout he tossed for the Rangers in 2015) with his scoreless seven-inning performance in last week’s win over the Reds. He only induced three swings-and-misses during the game but managed to keep the Cincinnati hitters off balance to the tune of 10 groundouts and a dozen flyouts. Gonzalez’s starts could be limited after this one, as he projects as a long arm in the bullpen when Kyle Freeland competes his rehab assignment in Triple-A. Meanwhile, Musgrove threw the Padres’ first no-hitter April 9 and was effective in his last start with five innings of one-run ball in a win against the Cardinals.
Trending: Nine of Colorado’s 15 wins entering Tuesday night have been come-from-behind, but the Rockies haven’t been able to erase any large deficits for victories. The Rockies haven’t won a game when trailing by five or more runs.
At issue: Entering Tuesday, Colorado’s winning percentage (.357) has the Rockies on track for 104 defeats, which would be the franchise’s first 100-loss season.
Friday: Diamondbacks RHP Luke Weaver (2-3, 4.50) at Rockies RHP German Marquez (2-4, 5.56), 6:40 p.m., ATTRM
Saturday: Diamondbacks LHP Madison Bumgarner (4-3, 4.15) at Rockies RHP Antonio Senzatela (1-4, 5.18), 1:10 p.m., ATTRM