DENVER -- Though his eight-game hitting streak came to a halt at Coors Field Tuesday night, Chase Headley got right back to it Wednesday, turning on Juan Nicasio's 97-mph fastball and sending it over the left-field fence for a first frame solo shot to put the Padres ahead of the Rockies. The homer gave Headley a hit in nine of his past 10 games, and raised his average to .344 (11-for-32) during that span.
Headley followed with his second home run of the game in the sixth inning, a two-run shot.
The Fountain, Colo., native, who grew up watching the Rockies' Triple-A affiliate in Colorado Springs and saw his first big league games at Mile High Stadium and Coors Field recalls that, "Vinny Castilla used to hit at least two home runs every time I came," and has special memories of the impact Colorado had on his career.
Chief among the influences was Alan Cockrell, the hitting coach for the Sky Sox when Headley was growing up, and later for the Rockies in their World Series run in 2007. After serving in the same capacity with Seattle, Cockrell is now the Minor League hitting coordinator for the D-backs. Cockrell played in the first game in Coors Field as a replacement player in 1995 at the tail end of the strike that prematurely ended the 1994 season.
"I actually got to hit with Alan Cockrell a lot when I was in high school," Headley said. "It was just kind of a coincidence. I met him because there was really only one place to go to an indoor hitting facility at the time. He was giving some lessons. He just saw me hit one day, and said, 'Hey, I'd love to work with you, just to help you out.' So we hit just a couple times, and then I ended up going to Tennessee. And obviously he went to Tennessee as well, so when I was coming back, that was another connection, and I would hit with him over Christmas. When I was home, I'd try to get a hold of him."
Colorado hadn't produced many big leaguers in those days -- with the most notable exception of Hall-of-Famer and Colorado Springs native Rich "Goose" Gossage -- so Headley seized on the opportunity to learn from a veteran like Cockrell.
"He was one of my favorite guys I've ever worked with," Headley said. "I hadn't received any advanced coaching before that, because where I was playing, there wasn't a ton of good baseball going on. My dad and my coaches helped me as much as they could, but I never really had exposure to somebody who knew the nuances of hitting, kind of that advanced stuff about hitting. He was the first guy that really kind of took me under his wing."
Denorfia thriving in outfield platoon
DENVER -- Chris Denorfia calls it a platoon. Padres manager Bud Black stops short of acknowledging it as such. Call it what you will, but the combination of right-handed hitting Denorfia and lefty Will Venable in the outfield has resulted in a combined .321 (17-for-53) average with two home runs and six RBIs through the season's first 12 games.
"They're two solid Major League outfielders," Black said before Wednesday's rubber match with the Rockies. "If you pick out periods of the season, they're really, really productive. Dino won a game for us already this year with a two-run homer off [Arizona's David] Hernandez late in the game. His four hits were a bright offensive star for us last night, even though it was a loss. And Will can do a lot of things to win a game. He can win a game with his defense. He can win a game with his legs. He's got some power."
Denorfia's 4-for-4 Tuesday night included three hits off Jamie Moyer, accounting for half the hits Moyer allowed.
"I tried really hard not to swing at borderline pitches early in the count, just to be really selective and wait for a mistake," Denorfia said. "I don't think I really got any mistakes. He was living on the corners. He did a really great job of that last night. I was able to get a couple pitches I could handle with two strikes, but he definitely was able to limit damage last night."
Denorfia, 31, is hitting .409 through in eight games this season, and though he acknowledges being a little older and wiser in his seventh big league season and attributes some success to some mechanical tweaks that put him in a better position to hit, the biggest difference so far may be his enthusiastic acceptance of his role on the club.
"I sort of embraced it and focused on being the best fourth outfielder I can be, instead of trying to always get in the starting lineup," Denorfio said. "It's not to say I wouldn't love to play every day, but if I focus on that, my head's way out of the game."
As testament to Black's notion that it's not a straight platoon, both Venable and Denorfia were in the lineup against righty Juan Nicasio Wednesday, as Cameron Maybin got a break and Black rode Denorfia's hot bat another night.
Street recalls time with Rockies fondly
DENVER -- Closer Huston Street made his return to Coors Field Tuesday, coming into a critical eighth-inning situation with the Padres down by one, two Rockies on base and nobody out. He let up a hit and a sacrifice fly, striking out two while letting two inherited runners score in his homecoming to the park he pitched in for three seasons, accumulating 84 saves for the Rockies.
"Returning to the stadium, seeing all my old teammates, my coaches, Dan [O'Dowd, general manager] -- that was special," Street said. "The game was the game. The game is serious. I'm out there to win. It didn't really evoke any emotion going out there other than I'm competing. But coming back absolutely was special. It's a place I still hold in super-high regard. It's a great thing, because I enjoyed my time here."
In four appearances this year, Street's had one save opportunity, which he converted successfully. He came into two tied games and Tuesday's tight game, and has yet to be charged with a run.
"The ball's coming out nicely," Street said. "It's a long season. You want to make every pitch you can make. It's really early, and I want to feel good, and I felt good so far.
"I've enjoyed it here [with the Padres]. It's a new place, it's a new adventure, it's a new set of guys you get to meet and relationship you get to build and forge. At the same time, I do look back nostalgically, and I'm appreciative of all the times I've spent in the other two organizations I've been in, because they get you to where you're at. Denver is a great city, but what makes it special are the people and my teammates and the coaches. All the rest is just baseball."
• Outfielder Cameron Maybin was out of the lineup Wednesday.
"Just thought it was a good day to give him a blow," Padres manager Bud Black said. "I suspect he'll be in there tomorrow. Probably get in there today. And don't be surprised if he hits somewhere different in the lineup, just to give him a little different look."
Maybin is 2-for-19 in the first five games of the six-game road trip. He hit leadoff and played center in every game until Wednesday.
• Black said he "misreported" that Tim Stauffer threw a bullpen in San Diego Tuesday. In fact, he threw one Wednesday and is expected to throw another Friday or Saturday.
• Outfielder Carlos Quentin hit on the field Wednesday and will do so again Thursday as he works his way back from March surgery on his right knee.
"He's doing some light jogging and running," Black said. "No time table yet. He's getting closer. He'll run around a little bit."
• Infielder Logan Forsythe is rehabbing his fractured left foot at extended Spring Training in Peoria, Ariz., and is a week to 10 days from making a rehab appearance in Triple-A Tucson.
"He's sprinting," Black said. "He's starting to do some agility work, and he'll see how the toe is. He's getting real close. He's hitting off the tee. He's taking batting practice. He's not taking ground balls, though."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.