DENVER -- Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado gripped his baseball bat and peered at the grain the way the art aficionado would try to decipher the artist's color theory on a fine work.
The bat was still beautiful, still his friend. And was happy with it in his hand. Never mind that through his first two at-bats Tuesday night against the Giants, his slump would extend 0-for-15, and 5-for-30.
Arenado, who had a 28-game hit streak before his 5-for-30, had hits in his last three at-bats. No hit was bigger than the last, a two-run double off the top of the left-field wall with two out in the bottom of the ninth for a 5-4 Rockies victory.
"Working in the cage, I was just trying to focus on going to the big part of the field, and just react to everything else," Arenado said. "That whole game plan worked out."
Arenado never felt he lost his swing when the hits weren't coming, so he didn't worry.
Neither did Rockies manager Walt Weiss.
"He works so hard at it, the only thing I worry about with Nolan is that he grinds himself into the ground," Weiss said. "I felt like he'd been taking some good swings. I just thought it was more a case of the cycle of the season, where there are ebbs and flows."
Unfailingly positive hitting coach Blake Doyle, who doesn't even bring up obvious flaws because "my wife can see that," watched Arenado's hitting sessions, but saved his reaction for when he can reinforce a correct technique.
"He puts things in perspective," said Arenado, whose batting average dropped .324 on May 7 to .292, but climbed back to .301 by the end of Tuesday night. "When things are going bad, which obviously sometimes they do in this game, he lets you know, 'It's still early. Your swing looks fine. Keep battling.'
"That's what you need. You don't need the guy who says, 'Hey, you're doing this wrong. You need to change this.' He wants to work with what you have, and that helps me out and helps a lot of guys out. When I take a bad swing and things are going bad, he knows it and he knows that I know exactly what I did. That's why he doesn't criticize so much."
Before the streak, Arenado's balance was inconsistent. During batting cage sessions, Doyle stayed quiet except for the times when he could say, "That's great balance."
Doyle had Arenado on the field hitting off a tee before one of the games of the weekend series with the Padres, letting him try to find the rhythm of the full, inside-out swing rather than the cut-off pass that slices the ball foul on the right side. Doyle is confident that Arenado can find the feel, so he doesn't load him with information.
"When a guy feels good about himself at the plate, you're not concerned about mechanics, and when you're not concerned about mechanics you let the athleticism come out," Doyle said before Tuesday night's game. "When the athleticism comes out, everything is good. It sounds really simple, and actually it is that simple.
"His swing path right now is really good. He's just got to let the ball travel a little bit. There's nothing in his mechanics that he needs to change right now. The only thing I've told him is, 'Be Nolan.'"
The only cross words for Arenado came from his parents.
Having raised a hitter, they know not to hit him with mechanical advice. But they were quick to correct him after he earned his first career ejection for disputing home-plate umpire Seth Buckminster's called third strike in the bottom of the eighth. The top of the ninth in the Rockies' 3-1 victory was the first action Arenado has missed this season.
"My parents were not too happy with me getting tossed and talking back to the umpire," Arenado said. "My dad wasn't happy about that, but he knows that's part of the game and I got frustrated."
Arenado was on his best behavior and it seemed his best swing showed up Tuesday night.
Weiss gives club a needed jolt in dugout
DENVER -- Rockies manager Walt Weiss shocked his players by yelling at them in the dugout when they lacked energy in Sunday's eventual 8-6, 10-inning victory over the Padres.
Weiss said it's the first time he felt the need to do it. Players say it came at the right time, and they understood Weiss was correct to blister them.
"I just felt the energy level wasn't where it was supposed to be on Sunday," Weiss said. "But these guys police themselves very well. That's not an issue for this club, but we all need to be reminded from time to time when you play virtually every day.
"All of us, including myself, need to be reminded of the importance of each game, every day -- especially when you're in the [National League West] division and trying to win a series. We've got a good group."
Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson were thrown out trying to steal in the first inning, even though Padres starter Donn Roach -- a reliever who was starting because of injury -- was slow to the plate. The second inning consisted of three groundouts to second base.
Justin Morneau, who hit the winning homer with two out in the 10th, said he detected waning focus at the end of the team's 2-5 performance on a road trip to Texas, Cincinnati and Kansas City.
"It was a tough road trip, but the games where we didn't feel like we played as well as we could in Kansas City, those were tough," Morneau said. "[James] Shields threw the ball really well, but I feel like the intensity could've been a little bit better, the fire could've been better. We need to find that same fire we play with at home and play with it on the road."
The lack of fire at home was too much for Weiss to take. Carlos Gonzalez, who was on base for Morneau's homer, said the manager was right to speak up when it looked like the Rockies were on their way to throwing a game and a series away against a sub-.500 team in the division.
"He's not a guy that shows a lot of emotions, I'll tell you that," Gonzalez said. "It's good. I try to be one of those players, always in control, and I'm sure when he was a player he was the same way.
"But it was nice to see your manager get excited. That meant it was something big and important. He usually lets you play the game, but that's why you pay more attention. When a guy like him is yelling, it's because you got away with something and he's trying to show you that you've got to get back your intensity."
Martin sent down to make room for Cuddyer
DENVER -- The Rockies optioned right-handed pitcher Chris Martin to Triple-A Colorado Springs on Tuesday to clear room on the active roster for Michael Cuddyer, who started at first base against the Giants after missing 25 games with a left hamstring injury.
By sending down a pitcher, the Rockies are going with six outfielders and 12 pitchers. This season, the Rockies' roster has gone from 12 pitchers to 13 and back often.
The Rockies want the extra hitter for the Giants series and for a nine-game road trip to Atlanta, Philadelphia and Cleveland, so Martin (0-0, 4.15 ERA, 8 K, 2 BB in 8 2/3 innings) lost his spot. Nick Masset (1-0, 1.50 ERA) has given the team an experienced right-hander to help protect leads.
"Typically, when we're getting ready to go on the road, we'll go with 12 pitchers," Weiss said. "We had to make a move with 'Cuddy,' and that seemed like the thing to do. We'll go back to 13 at some point. Chris Martin is a big part of this club. He's pitched very well for our bullpen. He'll be back."
Cuddyer played first base instead of his usual right field Tuesday. Weiss went with a right-handed lineup against Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner, which gave him a chance to rest the left-handed-hitting Morneau. Weiss led off with Brandon Barnes (4-for-8 against Bumgarner) rather than lefty-hitting Charlie Blackmon (0-for-4, no at-bats this year). Drew Stubbs also started in the outfield, rather than Corey Dickerson.
But Weiss went with left-handed-hitting Carlos Gonzalez, but the numbers supported the choice -- .351 (13-for-37) with five home runs and nine RBIs against Bumgarner.