PEORIA, Ariz. -- Rockies non-roster infielder Brandon Wood started Spring Training hot and made himself a contender for a season-opening roster spot before descending into some old bad habits.But he is using an entirely new method to regain his swing. Wood, who entered Tuesday night with 11 strikeouts in 29 at-bats, halted his slump with a late sacrifice fly as part of the Rockies' come-from-behind 4-3 victory over the Angels on Monday. Wood, 27, was an Angels' No. 1 Draft pick in 2003, and was with them until joining the Pirates last season. The key for Wood was spending time in Denver working not only on his swing but on his mental approach. In the past, Wood would begin tinkering after a small number of bad at-bats. Sometimes he would confuse himself by incorporating a myriad of well-meaning suggestions. "I was doing so many things that there wasn't just one thing to fix," Wood said. "If I didn't have a good game, I couldn't just say, 'OK, it was leg,' because I would do different things with my feet, the next day I would do something different with my hands. I would go in the cage and try this and that. It was just overload." After the Rockies signed Wood, they brought him to Denver for three days to work on his swing, and hitting coach Carney Lansford has followed up with him. Wood developed a consistent base from which his swing originates. Wood struggled for about a week but felt he was regaining his stroke. "If this was me in the past, I would have started to do something different after the first four at-bats where I struck out three times," Wood said. "I'd have thought, 'OK, that's not working.' But I had put in so much time and effort and I trust the opinions of who I'm working with to where I don't need to go anywhere else. It's not a panic mode." Even if he doesn't make the team on Opening Day, Wood is confident he can help during the season. He has impressed the Rockies with his ability to play all infield positions, and has dabbled with the outfield.
Chacin roughed up, but blister a non-issue
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Rockies pitcher Jhoulys Chacin's last Cactus League start before Tuesday night was shortened because a blister on his right index finger. On Tuesday night against the Padres, he was blistered to the tune of three runs on seven hits in three innings.Chacin said his blister, suffered Thursday against the Cubs, was not an issue Tuesday night. He merely left too many pitches up the strike zone. In the Padres' two-run first inning, Will Venable and Chase Headley lashed consecutive doubles. Cameron Maybin homered to center off Chacin in the second inning. The Rockies had hoped Chacin would go four innings, but they pulled the plug after it took him 70 pitches to make it through three frames. "I was leaving all the pitches up," Chacin said. "I was feeling a little bit stronger than I'm used to, and maybe that's why I was leaving them up. I just have to work on it and throw on more of a downhill plane, and maybe I'll get more outs and ground balls. It's hard when you pitch like tonight. "That happens sometimes. You have to keep working, never put your head down. Go get them next time." Before Tuesday, Chacin had maintained a 2.25 ERA in three starts, totaling eight innings, with five strikeouts against two walks.
Hernandez exits with sore knee after plunking
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Rockies catcher Ramon Hernandez at least has some extra time to feel pain.Hernandez was hit near the left knee by a pitch from Padres rookie pitcher Joe Wieland in the second inning Tuesday night, and left the game. His leg was a swollen, bright red in the clubhouse. The Rockies believe the injury is a bruise that shouldn't keep him out of action long. The Rockies are off Wednesday, so he has time to heal. "It was really sore -- he got me really good," said Hernandez, who joined the Rockies during the offseason on a two-year, $6.4 million contract after hitting .282 with 12 home runs and 36 RBIs in 91 games last year with the Reds. "I'll see how it feels when I get up." Hernandez is hitting .250 with two RBIs in eight Cactus League games.
Blake homers in Minor League action
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Tuesday was a good day for a veteran Denver athlete coming off neck surgery, even if his name isn't Peyton Manning.Rockies third baseman Casey Blake, who missed a week of Cactus League action with muscle soreness in the neck-shoulder area before going 0-for-2 against the Angels on Monday, doubled and homered in a Minor League game against Cubs farmhands on Tuesday afternoon. In his outing against the Angels, Blake hit a weak ground ball to the left side in his first at-bat, then redeemed himself with a line shot to third in his other at-bat. Blake, 38, needed neck surgery last year while with the Dodgers. He signed a one-year contract with the Rockies during the offseason but must prove his health to be the regular third baseman. Blake is 0-for-11 with four strikeouts in Cactus League action. "I know I have a track record, but 38, coming off neck surgery, I need to show them something," Blake said. Blake found humor in his return from surgery being upstaged by Manning, who has had multiple neck operations, signing with the Denver Broncos. "The same doctor [Robert Watkins] did our surgeries, so I can just say he only does the elite athletes," Blake quipped. Also, Rockies left-hander Rex Brothers, who gave up a run and looked shaky in his last Cactus League outing, pitched an inning in Tuesday's Minor League action and fanned all three batters he faced.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.