Dahl: All-away stint in Double-A helped prep for MLB fans

Rockies rookie opened year with Hartford, where home park was not ready

Dahl: All-away stint in Double-A helped prep for MLB fans

DENVER -- The multitudes of Cubs fans who are making Coors Field their home during a three-game weekend series don't bother Rockies rookie center fielder David Dahl. He knows what it's like to never actually have a home game.

Dahl made his first 76 appearances this season with the Double-A Hartford Yard Goats, a team whose stadium was never completed. The entire season is a tour of the Eastern League. Hartford receives designated "home" games in which they bat in the bottom of innings, but that's not the same.

"Just playing in stadiums where people are rooting against you all the time just gets you ready for the bigger stage -- especially teams like the Cubs, whose fans are going crazy, always yelling, making it like a road game," Dahl said. "It prepared me for this. I hope all the guys still there are doing well."

The Goats without a Yard have managed a 70-54 record, a solid season no matter the circumstance. But with players living in hotels, with diets determined by whatever diner or fast-food place is available, receiving visits from loved ones and family in hotel rooms rather than apartments, it's an accomplishment.

Dahl, 22, said the team has made the forced togetherness a positive.

"We'd go to lunch, go to dinner, all hang out," Dahl said. "And there were off-days. One time we all went bowling -- the whole team. Another time we went to the movies at the same time. You had options. Me and a bunch of guys saw 'Jungle Book.' Then we got together at the end."

Nutrition was an issue.

"It was Denny's or McDonald's, whatever we could find -- being young, I could eat that," he said, smiling.

But at roughly 6-3 with a body still maturing, the catch-as-catch-can eating took a toll.

"I was 193 [pounds] when I left Spring Training, and when I got here I was 180, but I'm starting to put it back on now," said Dahl, who stopped to speak on his way to the players' dining area for a pregame meal, with head chef Pete Dominguez and nutrition team lead Jamie Daugherty having set the food program.

Minor League clubhouse food is generally whatever the attendant cobbles with available money. If a team is lucky, a sponsor will cater meals.

"I liked Reading a lot," Dahl said. "They had some good spreads and it was a good place to play, too."

Anyone visiting either had to choose a place to show up for a series or rent a vehicle and "follow us for a week," he said.

Dahl said the experience taught him to truly appreciate the fan support he received at home games with Triple-A Albuquerque and at Coors.

"It's nice having fans cheer for you," Dahl said. "Last night, I tried to find the Rockies fans in the stands. The other games will be crazy, too. It's always nice to win for our fans."

Worth noting

• To clear room for No. 3 prospect Jeff Hoffman, who started Saturday night in his Major League debut, the Rockies optioned right-handed relief pitcher Christian Bergman to Albuquerque and requested unconditional release waivers on left-hander Jason Gurka, who had a 9.31 ERA in six Rockies games before being optioned to Albuquerque in April. He has spent much of the year on the Triple-A disabled list.

• Righty Gonzalez Germen, designated for assignment to make room for reliever Matt Carasiti on Aug. 12, cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to Albuquerque.

• Righty Tyler Chatwood, placed on the disabled list this week with back spasms, played catch at 75-80 feet Saturday. It's the first time he has thrown since sustaining the injury -- a recurrence of a problem that cost him two starts earlier -- on Sunday in Philadelphia.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. Ben Weinrib contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.