Fowler regaining hold on center field job

Fowler regaining hold on center field job

Fowler regaining hold on center field job
DENVER -- It appears Dexter Fowler has regained a grip on the Rockies' center field position after seemingly losing it.

The mercurial Fowler has reached base in six of his last seven games. Going into Saturday afternoon's game against the Mariners, he was 4-for-7 through three games of the current homestand.

The last two seasons, Fowler endured demotions to Triple-A Colorado Springs before returning for strong second halves.

This season, the Rockies didn't send him down, but did begin shifting playing time to Tyler Colvin a little more than a week ago. Fowler had enough poor at-bats and enough sloppy plays in the field that he became a lightning rod for criticism during the team's disappointing start to the season.

But with other players needing rest, Colvin played left field and first base and Fowler received a new chance. Fowler's average went from .219 to .243 and his on-base percentage went from .406 to .466 through three games of the homestand.

"A lot of people lost confidence in me, but I never lost confidence in myself," Fowler said Saturday. "I don't think anybody in the organization lost faith in me, or I probably wouldn't be here. But everybody else made it a much bigger deal than it needed to be in my head. God's given me some talents, and it's about utilizing those."

Offensively, the leg kick that brought the switch-hitting Fowler's swing to a new level last year became an issue this year. He added it during last season. He could adjust it depending on how he felt or what he needed during a particular at-bat. It's an added moving part that's difficult to control.

"I had been playing, so my timing was there," Fowler said. "Coming back this year, it was actually like starting from scratch. So I had to learn to just simplify it."

As long as veterans such as Michael Cuddyer and Todd Helton need days off -- Helton was off Saturday, and Cuddyer moved from right field to first base to preserve his legs -- Colvin still will get the playing time he has earned. Colvin entered Saturday hitting .315 with three home runs and 11 RBIs, first with part-time duty and now in the daily lineup.

"[Fowler] definitely has opened the door," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "What has worked out very well for us, too, is it's not a matter of him creating opportunity for himself and as a result I have to slide Tyler Colvin to the back burner. Because of the day game after night game today and the effectiveness that I've seen Tyler Colvin have against right- and left-handed pitching, I have the opportunity to slide him right back in there.

"So they're both playing."

Tracy said he also can give left fielder Carlos Gonzalez, who went into Saturday 3-for-13 during the homestand, a day off and play Colvin in his stead.