7/3/2013 1:27 A.M. ET
Rosario credits recent hot streak to his mother
By Ian McCue / MLB.com
DENVER -- Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario has quietly turned hot, hitting .373 from June 11 through Sunday -- a stretch that saw him hit safely in 14 of his 17 games.
He and the Rockies can thank his mother.
Before the breakout, Rosario's youth coach from the Dominican Republic came to Denver to watch Rosario's swing and offer some encouraging words. But recently, his mom, Crucita Paniagua, and 7-year-old baby brother visited him -- as well as his younger brother, Jario Rosario, a catcher for the Rockies at Rookie-level Grand Junction, and sat him down for a video session.
Turns out his mother, compact, fit and powerful with an easy smile, was quite the softball player in Bonao, Dominican Republic. The crouch and the leg kick that have helped him to a .275 overall batting average, 13 home runs and 41 RBIs? That comes from mom.
"She's my coach," Rosario said, smiling. "She said, 'Don't swing at that first pitch because they're not going to throw you a strike. … When you've got two strikes, just put the ball in play. Don't try to do too much.
"We watch the video together at my house. She said, 'Here! This is what I told you.' And believe it or not, I do much better."
Mom arrived on June 15, and the numbers show it.
Starting that date, Rosario is picking the right first pitches. He is 4-for-7 with a double, a home run and two RBIs. With two strikes he is a respectable .273, and as importantly he has two doubles and two RBIs. He also has worked two walks, to lift his two-strike on-base percentage since his mom's arrival to .333.
Rosario is also producing with two outs, to the tune of a .429 batting average, .500 on-base percentage and .571 slugging percentage. It's nice to have mom in town.
Rosario also has worked on his psyche.
"I cleared my mind, looked in the mirror and talked to myself," Rosario said. "I said, 'What's going to happen?' I said, 'Play hard and things are going to come. You're not going to be like this all year.' That's how I've played."
Cuddyer's hit streak ends at 27 games
DENVER -- After 27 games, Michael Cuddyer finally ran into a pitcher his red-hot bat couldn't catch up to.
Cuddyer finished 0-for-4 against Clayton Kershaw to end the Rockies' longest hitting streak in franchise history at 27 games. His final at-bat ended with a routine fly ball to right field, sealing the Dodgers' 8-0 victory at Coors Field on Tuesday night.
"He's run into a lot of tough pitchers along the way on this streak and he ran into a tough one tonight," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "Kershaw was real good and it was tough he had to run into him at this point in his streak."
Cuddyer's streak ended exactly where Red Sox slugger David Ortiz's did earlier this year. Ortiz hit in 27 straight over two seasons -- from July 2, 2012 to May 7, 2013. Cuddyer further separated himself from hitting coach Dante Bichette in the Rockies record book, as Bichette claimed a 23-game streak in 1995.
His streak stands as the longest in a single season since Dan Uggla went 33 straight games with a hit in 2011 with the Braves.
Never caught up in the superstitions and codes of silence often associated with such streaks, Cuddyer never hesitated to discuss it. Why so?
"Because 56 games is unattainable, so it doesn't matter," said Cuddyer, a recently branded authority on the record set by Joe DiMaggio. "You just enjoy the ride as long as you can.
"Fifty-six in itself, I don't see that getting broken. Period."
Cuddyer's bat caught fire during the streak, batting .372 (42-for-113) with six homers, 19 RBIs and 17 runs since it began May 27. He also had 42 hits -- 11 of them for extra bases -- over that span.
Tuesday night also ended Cuddyer's streak of reaching base safely in 46 consecutive games, the longest such streak in the big leagues since Kevin Millar reached in 52 straight in 2007.
Cuddyer's streak was in serious danger against the Giants Sunday when he went without a hit in his first three at-bats. But he dribbled a ball through the middle of the infield in the eighth -- his final plate appearance -- to keep the streak alive at 27 games.
That was just one example of the unpredictability involved in such a long streak.
"Through the course of this whole thing, I had good at-bats, I had some luck, some infield hits here and there, some broken bat hits," Cuddyer said. "But to hit for a month straight, that's what happens."
Rockies activate Escalona to bolster bullpen
DENVER -- The decision to activate right-hander Edgmer Escalona from the 15-day disabled list in place of injured center fielder Dexter Fowler puts the Rockies at 13 pitchers. More important than that, it's a healthy staff.
Closer Rafael Betancourt returned Friday after missing 25 games with a right groin strain. That allowed righty Matt Belisle and lefty Rex Brothers (the fill-in closer) to return to their usual setup roles. Escalona will most likely be used in one-inning stints initially, but manager Walt Weiss wants to return him to middle relief.
The 13-man pitching staff could help during the 10-game road trip into the All-Star break starting Friday.
"At times, it's nice to have the 13, allows me to be able to match up a little bit and you got that extra guy down there, not worry about running out of arms if you go through two or three guys in an inning," Weiss said. "But ultimately, it all depends on how our team sets up for certain series or looking a week ahead. I'd imagine we'll go back and forth between 12 and 13 pitchers for the rest of the season."
Rox reportedly ink two top international prospects
DENVER -- The Rockies celebrated the opening of the July 2 international signing period on Tuesday by signing two of MLB.com's top 30 prospects -- 14th-ranked right Erick Julio, a right-handed pitcher from Colombia for $700,000, and 15th-ranked Carlos Herrera, a shortstop from Venezuela for $1.2 million. The Rockies have not yet confirmed the deals.
Last year, the Rockies spent $810,000 on 15 players during the international signing period for the 2012-2013 period. Their most intriguing sign was Venezuelan shortstop Luis Castro, who originally agreed to deal worth $800,000 with the Blue Jays before the contract was voided because of an existing knee injury. He signed with the Rockies for $50,000.
Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez was just 16 when he signed with the D-backs out of Venezuela on Aug. 3, 2002. He felt it was a good idea to immerse himself in baseball at such a young age.
"It's always a challenge for any Latin player to go play in a different country," Gonzalez said. "I'm sure it's the same way if you're an American baseball player and you have to go play in winter ball or Japan. It's a challenge. It's a different thing for you.
"But I think it's a lot easier for us to adjust to the United States. The culture is not that difficult. Fans and people really make us feel good here. For me it was a good adjustment, being able to speak the language and communicate, get to know everybody. It was not that hard."
According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, a 16-year-old international player can sign during the period that extends from July 2 through June 15 of the following year if the prospect turns 17 before Sept. 1 or by the completion of his first Minor League season. Additionally, any prospect who is already 17 or older and has not previously signed a Major or Minor League contract, resides outside the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico and has not been enrolled in a high school or college in the U.S., Canada or Puerto Rico within the previous year is eligible to sign during the period.
"I had my options to go to college. I had my options to give myself a chance to be in the Draft, but I decided not to," Gonzalez said. "I decided to play baseball and learn, go from a little kid out of high school. I had my opportunities. I had a pretty good chance to go to the "U," University of Miami. That's where I wanted to go, too."
Ian McCue is an associate reporter for MLB.com.Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb.Jesse Sanchez This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.