DENVER — For the past few weeks, Josh Fuentes has felt good in the cage. His swing has felt sharp, and his mechanics seemed to be in order. And yet he wasn’t seeing any results at the plate.
Bud Black called him into his office a few days ago. They didn’t talk about his numbers, or his low walk rate. Instead, Black told Fuentes he wanted him to stop being so hard on himself.
Fuentes took it to heart. Over the past three days, Fuentes has cracked smiles and been caught laughing in between his swings at the plate. At the same time, his numbers have soared. He has five hits in the past three games, including two home runs. Fuentes also had seven RBI’s in the span, and was responsible for the walk-off single that won the second game of the doubleheader on May 12.
“I always feel like for me to move up or to play everyday, I always felt like I had to go above and beyond,” he said. “What I'm starting to realize this past week and a half is that I don't have to do that. I have to do what I'm capable of doing. I think the past couple of days have shown that. I don’t have to be Mike Trout. I don’t have to be Nolan (Arenado). I can just be Josh.”
At 28, Fuentes isn’t the youngest player on the team. But he also has under 300 career at-bats, and he still considers himself to be a ‘baby’ by playing time standards. Even so, he’s quickly learned what’s worked for him. He’s starting working with the Rockies mental skills coach, following the lead of his cousin Arenado. Fuentes also made slight mechanical adjustments, focusing on his timing.
“This game is too hard to rely on yourself, but not ask for help,” he said earlier this month. “Especially for guys like me that are emotional, it's good to have someone calm you down from time to time.”
His teammates have also been there to pick him up. Fuentes put pressure on himself to have a great game last week against Arenado, who was traded to the Cardinals in February. Instead, Fuentes walked away with one hit and multiple defensive errors. Ryan McMahon and Garrett Hampson waited for Fuentes in the dugout and patted him on the back to try and comfort him.
On May 12, after hitting the walk-off, McMahon and Hampson were two of the first players to mob Fuentes. McMahon even took it a step further, tearing Fuentes' jersey off.
“My personality, guys know when I’m pretty pissed off,” he said. “I’ve been around these guys for a minute. They know.”
Raimel Tapia was scratched from the lineup on Friday afternoon with thumb soreness. Manager Bud Black said it is not serious, but they wanted to give Tapia a night off to rest and get treatment.
Matt Adams was placed on the 10-day injured list with right shin contusion. The injury occurred when he fouled a ball off his shin.
CJ Cron (lower back strain) took part in fielding drills and ran in the outfield on Friday. They also planned to have him try to hit and play catch.