04/26/2013 11:05 PM ET
Cuddyer more at ease during Year 2 in NL
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- After finishing last year injured and with a .260 final batting average, the Rockies' Michael Cuddyer is feeling more comfortable in 2013, and it shows.
Cuddyer, who signed a three-year, $31.5 million deal with the Rockies last year after spending his entire career with the Twins, entered Friday night's game against the D-backs hitting .329 with five home runs, 15 RBIs and a .618 slugging percentage. From the fifth spot in the order, Cuddyer doesn't give the pitcher a chance to relax after facing No. 3 hitter Carlos Gonzalez and cleanup man Troy Tulowitzki.
Last season, Cuddyer hit 16 home runs and had 48 extra-base hits, and his average might have been higher had an oblique injury not ended his season in early September. All that happened while he was adjusting to a new league.
Cuddyer, 34, said he is feeling the benefits of the 2012 experience.
"It helps, especially when you play these games in the division," Cuddyer said. "Even though I was hurt the last couple of months, I still got to see the guys pitch and face a lot of the guys. This year, the preparation time is not as great, as far as watching video or taking an at-bat or two to figure things out. I already know some things going into the first at-bat of the first game."
Cuddyer said he studies catchers' tendencies almost as much as those of pitchers, and he has come away impressed with what he's seen in the National League West.
"The Diamondbacks' catcher, Miguel Montero, has really got a good feel for the game," Cuddyer said. "Plus he has pitchers that can hit the spots. Buster Posey of the Giants is the same way. The Dodgers' A.J. Ellis is a good one that doesn't get talked about. This division has a lot of quality game callers."
Fowler getting and taking big hits this year
PHOENIX -- Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler has stung baseballs to the tune of seven home runs going into Friday night's game against the D-backs. But Fowler has been stung by baseballs, too.
He has fouled a pitch off his left foot, and needed an X-ray to make sure it wasn't broken. He was hit in the wrist by a pitch. Thursday night, D-backs right-hander Trevor Cahill smoked him with a pitch on the outside of his right knee.
"I hope I'm not a magnet," Fowler said. "Sometimes I hit my own self, sometimes I get hit. I don't know.
"That one last night was pretty bad. But my foot was bad. But it's part of the game."
Series of lefties could wake up Rockies' bats
PHOENIX -- The pitching matchups for the next week could be good news for the Rockies.
Going into Friday night, when the Rockies faced D-backs righty Brandon McCarthy, the Rockies ranked fourth in the National League in batting average against lefties, and not all of their big guns were clicking. And starting Saturday, when they match up with D-backs lefty Wade Miley, the Rockies will be facing lefty starters for four straight games and six of the next eight.
Left-handed-hitting left fielder Carlos Gonzalez has hit .391 (9-for-23) with two doubles, a homer and three RBIs against left-handers. Several right-handed hitters were also doing well. Michael Cuddyer was hitting .357 with two doubles, Chris Nelson was at .313 and Wilin Rosario and Josh Rutledge each were at .273.
In their careers, Rosario (.336, 15 home runs), Jordan Pacheco (.335) and Troy Tulowitzki (.304, 39 homers) are considered tough matchups for lefties. Tulowitkzi started this year 2-for-17 (.118) against left-handers, but hopes that will change with some regular at-bats.
"It's definitely better than having them separate, having lefty-righty, lefty-righty," Tulowitzki said. "We know we're up against a few of them. I actually feel good up there against lefties. I've just hit some balls hard and had nothing to show for it."
It's possible that a solid run of lefties could help Gonzalez, who was 2-for-24 with eight strikeouts in his last six games before his first-inning hit Friday. The theory is Gonzalez has been chasing pitches out of the strike zone, so tracking pitches is more of a premium when going left-on-left.
"I don't really care," Gonzalez said. "I just need to have a good approach against lefties. It doesn't matter who I face, although sometimes it's good to face four in a row. But I have to be patient against anybody. I just have to do it."
After Miley on Saturday night, the Rockies will face the D-backs' Patrick Corbin on Sunday afternoon, the Dodgers' Ted Lilly on Monday and the Dodgers' Hyun-Jin Ryu on Tuesday. Two of the three pitchers the Rockies are scheduled to face in next weekend's series with the Rays at Coors Field are lefties David Price and Matt Moore .
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.