Possible Deadline deal not on Hawpe's mind
Slugger focused on turning things around at the plate
DENVER -- The pain has subsided as much as possible at this point, and it appears the Rockies' Brad Hawpe has had a renewal of bat speed.
Hawpe, who played in last year's All-Star Game but has been banged up and seen his production drop since, is 4-for-9 with two home runs in his past three games. After suffering a rib injury late in the first half and struggling through the end of June and much of July, Hawpe is feeling much better.
"[Teammate Randy] Flores said this one time to me, so I' better give him credit: 'In baseball, what happened yesterday doesn't matter, what's happening tomorrow doesn't matter,'" Hawpe said. "It's just this moment. That was good advice."
Living by that advice, Hawpe isn't looking at tomorrow -- as in Saturday afternoon's non-waiver Trade Deadline -- even though his name has been mentioned in various reports of possible deals. Hawpe, a right fielder by trade, made his fifth start at first base Friday night against the Cubs.
The White Sox, Tigers and Padres have been linked to Hawpe in the past day or so, but things were quiet around the Rockies less than 24 hours before Saturday's 2 p.m. MT deadline for trading players without them having to clear waivers.
Also, there is Hawpe's history of turning hot at a moment's notice and carrying the team. That's why he's still batting in the middle of the order -- fifth on Friday night -- even though he entered hitting .262 with seven home runs and 35 RBIs. Those are low numbers for Hawpe, who went into Friday seventh on the team's career home runs list at 118 and eighth in RBIs at 461.
Hawpe quipped that the rib injury would heal "around Christmas." But having been in and out of the lineup recently has helped him past some of the worst pain. Now, he has a bright outlook.
"I feel fine," Hawpe said. "I had a rib problem and had to battle through it. It was probably a little more serious than I expected it to be. I feel better from that. It's been five weeks. It had to heal. I broken bone would have healed in five weeks. I still have it, but it's nothing to affect my baseball."
Hawpe, a first baseman in college at LSU and early in his Minor League career, has earned manager Jim Tracy's praise for how he has handled the position after a long layoff, especially the in-between hops and difficult throws from teammates.
Hawpe is playing first to keep the Rockies from overusing veteran Jason Giambi while Todd Helton is out with a back injury, and to make sure outfielder Seth Smith plays regularly. Helton could return as early as Tuesday. If he's playing well and Hawpe's bat continues to improve, assuming there is no trade, it only increases Tracy's options.
"Depending upon where this all goes, here's a guy that has had moments where he's carried this club offensively," Tracy said. "With the way he's swinging the bat, we're certainly going to try to explore that. What we've been seeing with that bat the past few days has been pretty interesting."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.