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05/10/09 4:20 PM ET
Fowler returns after two-day break
Six struggling Rockies have undergone same ritual
By Cheng Sio / MLB.com
DENVER -- Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler was held out of the starting lineup for two games to get his swing straightened out. On Sunday, Fowler returned to his normal leadoff spot against the Marlins. Fowler, a rookie, hit .310 in his first 17 games, but during an eight-game stretch from April 29 to May 7, he fell into a 4-for-27 slump that dropped his batting average to .259. The following day, manager Clint Hurdle told the youngster to worry about his hitting mechanics instead of his spot in the lineup. "It's part of the game," Fowler said. "You really can't do anything but take it in stride and try to get better." In the last two days, Fowler has hit the batting cages. Some of what Hurdle wants Fowler to work on is plate coverage, improve his bat path to the ball and covering the outside fastball. "We try to firm up his angles to the path of the ball -- try to eliminate a little bit of that loop, the Nike swoosh," Hurdle said. "We want it more forward." Fowler became the sixth Rockies regular to receive the two-game tuneup. Although this method hasn't worked for everyone -- Garrett Atkins is hitting .218 and Ian Stewart is at .197 -- it has helped a few players, such as outfielder Ryan Spilborghs. Spilborghs hit .346 in the season's first six games, but in the following four outings, Spilborghs went 1-for-15 with nine strikeouts. He sat April 19 and 20. When he was reinserted into the starting lineup, Spilborghs finished the month of April on an 11-for-30 tear (.367). "You take it upon yourself to work on your swing, maybe watch some video and get yourself out of the mind-set of just being in the game," Spilborghs said. "It gives yourself a chance to get a breather and come back with your normal swing." Hurdle's slump-busting method might have already started working on Fowler. Against Florida's hard-throwing right-hander Josh Johnson on Saturday night, Fowler worked into a full-count before slapping a pinch-hit single to right. "It was good," Fowler said. "I felt like I was right on it on all those pitches. I was seeing them pretty good and got a pitch to hit." Hurdle said he saw some good things too in Fowler's battle against Johnson, but he cautioned it was just one at-bat. "Today," Hurdle said, "we're probably going to get a better read than maybe the last time."
Cheng Sio is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.