CINCINNATI -- Onetime Rockies star outfielder Ellis Burks, a special guest instructor during Spring Training, has joined the team at Great American Ball Park to observe the club and help with fundamentals.
Burks, a player for parts of five seasons in Colorado, spent several seasons as a special front-office assistant with the Indians, and he is doing similar work on a part-time basis with the Rockies. He will join the club when it travels to Cleveland next month, spend time in Denver and also lend a hand to the Minor League system. It is similar to the work manager Walt Weiss did a few years back and that Vinny Castilla is doing on a full-time basis.
Burks is around this weekend in case hitting coach Blake Doyle or first-base coach Eric Young need an extra set of eyes and ears. He is also available to critique players.
Burks said he respected administration and statistical analysis as being essential to an organization but that those were outside his skill set. However, he can provide a voice when it comes to talent and coachability.
"If you're a pretty good player and you've been around the game a number of years, you sort of know what to expect out of certain players and what to expect each and every day what an organization would like to see out of certain guys," Burks said. "That's what I do, so that ownership and management know exactly what I feel about a particular guy.
"If you don't have the talent to play the game, you're not going to play the game. Guys like me can go out and say, 'This is a player and he can help the organization.'"
Switch to NL has studious Morneau cramming
CINCINNATI -- Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau is similar to the student who didn't feel he had to study until graduate school. Now he's a smart guy who can retain even more information.
Morneau, who turns 33 Thursday, entered Saturday night's game against the Reds batting .338 with seven home runs and 27 RBIs. The success has come despite not having a long track record against many of the pitchers and catchers in the National League, as Morneau played in the American League with the Twins from 2003 until the end of last August, when he was dealt to the Pirates.
The strong start could be attributed to a change in study habits.
"I really started doing a lot more video in 2010," Morneau said. "Before that I felt I could use my first at-bat to gain information and try to plan the rest of the day with a plan.
"I wouldn't say I was giving up my first at-bat, because I was getting information, but sometimes in the first inning you can win a ballgame. You can drive in a couple runs early and give yourself a lead."
The information helps Morneau predict pitches he will see in specific counts.
"Pitchers and catchers, they all seem to have some types of tendencies and some types of patterns they can fall into," Morneau said. "If you can get into a count where there is a high percentage of seeing a certain pitch, then you can look for that pitch. You pay attention to that kind of stuff."
Morneau is able to use the information without becoming robotic in the batter's box.
"Obviously you can get so far into study that it affects your aggressiveness sometimes," he said. "You have too many thoughts in your mind. That's the last thing you want as a hitter. But to be able to formulate a plan before you've seen a guy, it's important for me to do that.
"You want to be aggressive throughout the count, but if you get into one of those counts where there's a tendency, that's the kind of thing I want to pay attention to."
Morneau's approach can serve as a blueprint for younger hitters, many of whom are also learning pitchers. The example set by Morneau is one reason the Rockies pursued and signed him for two years and $12.5 million.
"Ultimately, we're talking about his professionalism and how well he prepares," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "It's been amazing for us. He's got a knack for getting the big RBI. He's been everything we could have hoped for, and then some."
Cuddyer expects rehab stint to be brief
CINCINNATI -- Rockies outfielder-first baseman Michael Cuddyer said Saturday that he did not know when he would start a Minor League rehab assignment for his left hamstring injury, but he believed it would be a short one.
"Last year I went down to extended spring for two days, and I got seven at-bats each day," Cuddyer said. "Then I came back and went 2-for-4 the next day against [Giants pitcher] Tim Lincecum."
Cuddyer (.317, 3 HR, 10 RBIs in 16 games), who sustained the injury on April 17, took batting practice and ran for the first time on Friday, and he did slightly more intense running in the outfield Saturday after a heavy rainstorm blew through town. He hoped to run the bases Sunday, but that depended on the weather and if the grounds crew at Great American Ball Park believed the field was in shape for it.