Rockies hitters aim for consistency they lacked last season
The Denver Post
TUCSON – Hot or cold. Fast or slow. Yes or no.
Welcome to a hitter’s streak, a bizarre world of polar opposites that leaves players strapped in for a roller-coaster ride through the emotional spectrum.
“It’s crazy,” Rockies third baseman Ian Stewart said. “One day you are raking, the next day you’re (stinking).”
The Rockies are proof that a streaky lineup can produce, but the “Sybil” nature of four of their regulars leaves them particularly fallible. Only the Philadelphia Phillies scored more runs than the Rockies last season in the National League. And only the Arizona Diamondbacks struck out more.
Brad Hawpe, Clint Barmes, Chris Iannetta and Stewart symbolize the Rockies’ head-throbbing, fist-pumping dichotomy.
“It’s a balancing act, really, when you have guys going up and down,” hitting instructor Don Baylor said. “It’s never easy, but you have to find ways to get through it.”
For the aforementioned foursome, the highs and lows were dramatic, affecting the perception of them as players. Hawpe was the Rockies’ top performer in the first half, earning an all-star berth with 43 extra-base hits and 59 RBIs.
“The game is in slow motion when you’re in a hot streak (like that),” Hawpe said. “You see everything. Every pitcher seems the same, from the ace to the fifth starter.”
After the break, Hawpe batted .240 with 27 RBIs – four fewer than he had in May – and was benched in the playoffs. Teammates knew Hawpe was gassed, though he never used it as an excuse. He needed to rest in June to save his legs, but the Rockies couldn’t afford the luxury because of their awful start.
“I don’t know why we play 162 games. That’s a problem right there,” said Hawpe, who changed his diet this winter – healthy foods, less sugar – to stay stronger. “You start struggling. That’s when even that spot starter looks like Nolan Ryan.”
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