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Meggie Zahneis

Fowler's passion for game still runs deep

Fowler's passion for game still runs deep

Fowler's passion for game still runs deep

Dexter Fowler started early.

"One of my friends came over and he was like, 'Hey, do you want to come to practice with me?' and from then on, it's been history," Fowler said. "I've been playing ever since. You can't get me off of the baseball diamond.

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"My mom and dad used to mess around with me all of the time, 'You seem to be tired all of the time, but when you're ready to play baseball, you're not tired anymore!'" Fowler laughed.

Suffice it to say, Dexter may have gotten the last laugh with his parents, Trudy and John Fowler.

The game he used to play is now his living. The passion is still there, though.

"My dad used to take me to the Braves games growing up in Atlanta. We used to go to Braves games all of the time," Fowler reminisced. "He'd point out the center fielder and say, 'Hey, do you think you could do that?' And I'd say, 'Yeah, I can do that right now!' [I was] pumping my own head up."

But when you're fifth in the National League in on-base percentage (.397), tied for fourth in runs scored (45) and tied for sixth in walks (31), you're allowed a certain amount of head-pumping.

But speed -- with the bat and feet -- isn't the only weapon Fowler has in his arsenal. He's also part of an elite group of switch-hitters.

"All through high school, I only hit right-handed," Fowler said. "I started switch-hitting when I got to pro ball. My brother and I used to be in the backyard playing home run derby left-handed, since we had a small yard and we'd all be hitting home runs right-handed. So that's how I basically learned to switch-hit."

And sporting a .352 righty and a .282 lefty batting average this season, one surmises he learned well. But Fowler was also quick to point out that hitting isn't just swinging at anything.

"I've always been selective at the plate. That's always been one of my strong suits, even going up through the Minor Leagues. I just tried to bring that here [to the Major Leagues]," he said. "Obviously, sometimes you're going to have a lot of strikeouts because you're maybe too selective at times, but at the same time, you're going to have a lot of walks."

Whatever he's doing, he's doing it right. Fowler has been on a hot streak as of late.

"I think it's more maturity [that made thing click for me]. I think it's playing and coming out here every day," Fowler explained. "The first few years, you're still learning, you've got that little learning curve. Now you go out and you play against guys you played against for three or four years now. I'm in my fifth season now. You start to see little patterns. It's just maturity."

And when Fowler's hot, many have pointed out, he seems to take the entire Rockies lineup along for the ride.

"I think I need to be hot more often, then, if that's the case!" Fowler chuckled. "I just try to go out and do what I can, just get on base. Being leadoff, you gotta be a table setter, and that's what I'm trying to do."

Just so long as he's patrolling center field in the massive expanse at Coors Field, Fowler is happy.

"Any time you can go out there and excel in something you love, it's a dream come true," Fowler said. "It's a blessing just to be able to come out here and play every day."

Meggie Zahneis, winner of the 2011 Breaking Barriers essay contest, earned the job of youth correspondent for MLB.com in the fall of '11. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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