Giants Rockies Baseball

Rockies left fielder Sean Bouchard swings Sept. 21 in Denver.

LOS ANGELES — Sean Bouchard was playing at Wrigley Field, one of the most iconic stadiums in baseball, when an overwhelming feeling washed over him. 

He had just struck out three times against the Cubs on Sept. 17, his second chance in the majors going the opposite of how he had hoped. He was unprepared, he recalled, like he was trying to pass the biggest test of his life without studying. 

He felt hopeless.

"That was obviously my fault," Bouchard said. "I hated that feeling."

That game, though, was a wake up call. 

He was up for three games in June, but didn't see enough playing time to get accumulated to major league life. Pitchers at this level are smarter, they don't miss like they do in lower levels. But there's also more data and video at this level, and more resources overall that Bouchard can use to his advantage. 

So he got to work. And soon enough, Bouchard had turned himself into an on-base machine. He's hit .400 with 12 walks in his 11 games since then, including two doubles on Sunday. The second extra-base hit came in the top of the ninth, when Bouchard punched in a run to help the Rockies beat the Dodgers 4-1, snapping their seven-game losing streak. 

"I'm almost happy that that game happened," he said of his experience at Wrigley. "It kickstarted my learning."

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Bouchard, who was never a top prospect, always hit decently well in his minor league career. But the on base proponent didn't come along until later, and that's one of the reasons the Rockies are now so intrigued by him.

To get to this point, he took a page out of one of the best to do it in a Rockies uniform: his teammate Charlie Blackmon. Blackmon is known for his extensive pregame preparation, and Bouchard started imitating the elder statesman. 

Blackmon, for example, doesn't just set up the pitching matching to replicate what an opposing team's starter is going to do. He exaggerates the way the pitch is going to look, because he likes to feel overwhelmed in the cage. That way, when he gets into the game, it's a little more manageable. 

"I'm not saying that it's easy, but it makes it a little bit easier," Bouchard said. "I think that's just the name of the game, preparation. Is it going to guarantee hits and walks? No. Obviously it's baseball still. S--- happens. But it's a big thing, that feeling of being prepared and understanding what's going to happen."

March is months away, but this time period is an examination for Bouchard as they figure out where he fits in next season. He's proving his value in each game though, and has himself in position to fight for a spot on the opening day roster. 

"It's been a good year," Bouchard said. "It's exciting to know that there are certain things I do that will work and certain things that won't. It's a constant learning curve and a constant adjustment."

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