8/19/2014 9:18 P.M. ET
Dickerson considers Morneau his hitting mentor
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
DENVER -- If someone was assessing Rockies outfielder Corey Dickerson's learning style when it comes to hitting, it would be somewhat auditory, meaning he can talk though information. But Dickerson is mostly a kinesthetic learner. In plain English, he learns by doing.
However, he is not a visual learner. He doesn't spend long periods with video, mainly because he isn't wired to pull much out of it. But he has a veteran teacher in teammate Justin Morneau to fill in that gap.
Together, their styles are putting up big numbers.
Morneau entered Tuesday as the official National League batting leader at .323, now that Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, out for the season because of left hip surgery, has fallen below the threshold of 3.1 plate appearances per scheduled game for his .340 average to qualify to be listed among official leaders.
Dickerson, who spent the early part of the year battling for playing time in a crowded outfield, went into Tuesday batting .326. He had 345 plate appearances in 124 games (2.78 per game). If Dickerson stays hot and healthy, he has a chance to battle with Morneau -- at least average-wise.
Dickerson, 25, views Morneau, 33, as a mentor.
"I don't think it's a competition at all -- I feed off him," said Dickerson, the reigning NL Player of the Week. "I like to ask questions every day about what the pitcher has. He puts in work studying pitchers. I like to pick his brain. He's one of the guys I look up to on the team. It's just trying to be the best we can."
Morneau and Dickerson are left-handed hitters, but there are differences in their styles. Morneau has a distinct plan that allows him to take the pitcher to the pitch he wants. Dickerson's aggressiveness sometimes takes him to pitches low or outside, but his hands are so direct to the ball that he can hit these pitches hard.
While Morneau's adjustment during an at-bat is mental and the swing stays the same, Dickerson has a spread-out, two-strike approach (sometimes with a shorter leg kick, sometimes with no stride), which he sometimes goes to before two strikes, but can hit with power out of the adjusted stance.
Morneau enjoys Dickerson's confidence.
"He's one of those guys that anytime he's hitting, I don't want to miss him," Morneau said. "It looks like he feels like he can hit a homer every time up."
As Morneau's career progressed, he streamlined his study habits to being able to pinpoint what the pitcher wants to use in certain counts. He has shared that information with Dickerson. It's just enough to guide Dickerson without paralyzing him with information.
Dickerson earned NL Player of the Week honors at a time when, with Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez out with injury and with Michael Cuddyer having returned from injury Sunday, opponents are paying special attention to him.
Advice from Glenallen Hill, his manager at Triple-A Colorado Springs, also is helping him stay a step ahead.
"I told him once, 'Sometimes I feel like the catchers know me, they know what I'm going to swing at,'" said Dickerson, who understands that the guy calling pitches is almost as important as the guy throwing them. "He said, 'As long as you go up there with your approach, it doesn't matter who's back there or who's pitching.' So I don't care what the pitcher or catcher think. I just adjust as quickly as possible.
"To help, I watch film a little bit with [Morneau] and pick his brain. I'm not a huge film guy because I'd rather trust somebody that's played and has a lot of success."
Cuddyer scratched with sore hamstring
DENVER -- Michael Cuddyer's cycle Sunday night might have been a case of a lot of running too soon.
Cuddyer was scratched from the Rockies' lineup Tuesday against the Royals because of hamstring soreness. Drew Stubbs took his place in the order. Manager Walt Weiss said Cuddyer was available to pinch-hit.
Still, Cuddyer being scratched was jarring for Rockies fans, who watched Cuddyer hit for the seventh cycle in franchise history -- and become the third player in history to have cycles in each league -- during Sunday night's 10-5 victory over the Reds.
Sunday's doubleheader, which saw Cuddyer take 10 at-bats, was his first after missing 60 games because of a fractured left shoulder. Cuddyer also missed 25 games early in the season with a left hamstring strain.
"He took several laps around the bases -- hard laps -- and he came up a little sore," Weiss said. "He had been playing on a rehab assignment, but I think he red-lined the other day. He had to run hard several times."
Rockies head athletic trainer Keith Dugger said Cuddyer told him he could play, but "I don't want to risk -- that's the bottom line."
Cuddyer, 35, is at an intriguing stage. He's in the final year of a three-year, $31.5 million deal. It's not clear if he'll resign. But the Rockies potentially could trade him to a contender in a waiver deal. If he's on another club's roster by Sept. 1, he is eligible for the postseason.
Cuddyer would have to be placed on waivers sometime this month and either clear waivers -- each team, in inverse order of record, has an opportunity -- or be claimed. If a player is claimed, the team can either work out a trade or let that team have the contract. If a player on waivers is not claimed, he can be traded to anyone.
Teams looking for a right-handed bat could make a play for Cuddyer, but they'll need to see him healthy.
Another player who could end up in a waiver deal is righty reliever Matt Belisle, who is 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA in his last 10 outings. Belisle also is a free agent at season's end.
Waivers are a confidential process, so it's rarely revealed when a player is placed on waivers or claimed.
CarGo has surgery, might not be ready by spring
DENVER -- Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez had the middle third of the left patella tendon repaired and a bursa sac removed in a surgery on Monday. Head athletic trainer Keith Dugger cautioned that it won't be known for months if Gonzalez will be healthy enough to begin Spring Training on time.
"The fatty pad [bursa sac] was beat up and torn up," Dugger said. "they cleaned that out. The middle third of the patella tendon was where the actually diseased tissue was. They cut that out and sewed it back together."
Doctors knew from MRI readings that the tendon was damaged, but understood that the full extent of damage could not be assessed until the surgical procedure, performed by Dr. Thomas Hackett in Vail, Colo.
Dugger said Gonzalez was placed in a straight-leg knee immobilizer and will be on crutches at least three weeks.
Gonzalez tweeted: En Vail saliendo a Denver. Todo salió perfecto, gracias a Dios y a mi Chinita... Ahora unos meses de terapia. --CarGo"
En Vail saliendo a Denver. Todo salió perfecto, gracias a Dios y a mi Chinita... Ahora unos meses de terapia pic.twitter.com/2WhSUlEo1v- Car Go (@CarGoMedia5) August 19, 2014
Translated, in part, he said: "Thank God and my sweetheart that everything went perfect. Now four months of physical therapy, but it will all be worth it."
But when he'll be full-speed is uncertain.
"We really won't know how he is going to be until that 4 1/2- to 5-month mark," Dugger said. "He might be a little delayed for Spring Training, but our goal is to get him there and get him ready.
"Nothing is a cure-all. The closest thing to a cure-all is the rehab."
Rockies teammate Michael Cuddyer had a similar surgery after the 2010 season, when he hit a career-low 14 home runs. Cuddyer returned in 2011 to hit 20 homers and drive in 70 runs, and the Rockies signed him after that season.
Gonzalez, who underwent surgery in June to remove a benign tumor from his left index finger, played in just 70 games and batted a career-low .238 with 11 home runs and 38 RBIs.
Betancourt may see Major League action
DENVER -- Righty reliever Rafael Betancourt's comeback from Tommy John surgery last September had reached a new level.
Betancourt, 39, who was with the Rockies 2009-13 with most of that time as the closer, signed a Minor League deal this summer. He made 14 appearances at Rookie Ball Grand Junction (1-0, 2.03 ERA), before making scoreless appearances for Colorado Springs Sunday and Monday against Fresno.
Betancourt ranks fifth in Rockies history with 57 saves, and is tied with Mike DeJean for eighth in club history in pitching appearances with 264.
"He's building himself up," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "Obviously, missing as much time as Raffy has, he needs to go out and pitch. He's healthy now. He's pitching again. You know how much we love Raffy as a teammate, and we'll see if there's an opportunity here to get him in the mix down the stretch."
McBride promoted, Flande optioned to Triple-A
DENVER -- The Rockies purchased the contract of first baseman-outfielder Matt McBride from Triple-A Colorado Springs for Tuesday night's game against the Royals.
The club also optioned left-hander Yohan Flande to Colorado Springs, and moved shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (left hip surgery) to the 60-day disabled list to clear a 40-man roster spot for McBride.
McBride, 29, batting .305 with seven home runs, 11 doubles, a triple and 35 RBIs at Colorado Springs, is the last player the Rockies have left from the 2011 trade that send their former ace, Ubaldo Jimenez, to the Indians. The others were pitchers. Drew Pomeranz is with the Athletics, Alex White with the Astros in Triple-A and Joe Gardner with the Cubs in Double-A.
By calling up McBride, the Rockies can avoid using outfielder-first baseman Michael Cuddyer, who returned from a 60-game absence on Sunday and hit for the cycle in the second game of a doubleheader but, was scratched Tuesday with left hamstring soreness.
Flande (0-5, 5.52 ERA in nine games, eight starts) had some impressive early innings but more often than not struggled the third time through a batting order.
By optioning Flande, the Rockies likely opened a starting spot on Sunday for right-hander Christian Bergman (0-2, 7.20 ERA), who suffered a broken left hand when he was hit by a line drive in his third start, on June 20. Bergman has been making Minor League rehab starts, including the last four at Colorado Springs.
The club has not officially announced a Sunday starter. Bergman is eligible to return from the 60-day disabled list Wednesday but would not come off until needed.