Rockies’ Trevor Story knows how to cut down strikeouts, maintain power

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — One of Rockies outfielder Sam Hilliard’s goals is to cut down on strikeouts, which soared to 36.8% during last year’s shortened season.

Hilliard should turn to all-star shortstop Trevor Story for some tips.

Story made an immediate impact as a rookie in 2016, slugging 27 homers in 97 games before his season ended because of a thumb injury. Still, he struck out in 31.3% of his plate appearance that season, and that number rose to 34.4% in 2017.

Since then, however, Story’s K-rate has come down (25.6% in 2018, 26.5% in ’19 and, 24.3% in ’20) but he’s still been able to hit for power.

“A lot of times it’s about not missing your pitch early in the count,” Story said. “For me, it was being consistent in the tempo of my load, and controlling my effort level.

“With Sam, probably more than anybody, his 75% effort swing produces crazy power. So he can be accurate which leads to better decisions on close pitches.”

Coors challenge. If new right-hander Dereck Rodríguez gets a chance to pitch for the big-league club this season, he says won’t be intimidated by the idea of pitching at Coors Field.

“I like the challenge,” Rodríguez said Saturday. “It’s gone around for years that pitchers go to Coors and they defeat themselves already because the ball flies, and because of the altitude, and how the breathing is (harder), and the pitches don’t break as much as they do at (sea level), but I like that challenge.

“I know that the guy in the other uniform has to step on that exact same mound and pitch through the same conditions. When I was a visitor coming into Coors, I always wanted the ball when I came here.”

His history shows why. He is 1-0 with a 1.88 ERA in three games, including two starts, at Coors. On Sept. 4, 2018, Rodríguez held the Rockies to one run and six hits, with six strikeouts, in six innings in a game the Giants ended up losing, 6-2.

Rodríguez, 28, son of Hall of Fame catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodríguez, signed a minor league deal with Colorado in November. He’s 12-15 with a 4.27 ERA in 51 big-league games across three seasons, including 35 starts, with San Francisco. He made two appearances, giving up six runs in four innings, with the Giants in 2020. Detroit claimed Rodríguez off waivers in late August, but he never appeared for the team.

He sees himself as a starter but said would gladly pitch out of the bullpen if that’s where the Rockies need him.

Rox radio, TV. A select number of the Rockies’ Cactus League games will be broadcast and televised this spring.

Following are the games scheduled to be broadcast on KOA NewsRadio 850 AM and 94.1 FM (all times listed are Mountain time):

Monday: Rockies at Dodgers, 12:55 p.m.
March 6: Rockies at Angels, 1 p.m.
March 9: Rockies at Diamondbacks, 1 p.m.
March 10: Rockies vs. Padres, 1 p.m.
March 11: Rockies vs. Cubs, 1 p.m.
March 13: Rockies vs. Mariners, 1 p.m.
March 15: Rockies vs. Dodgers, 2 p.m.
March 20: Rockies at Cubs, 1:55 p.m.
March 21: Rockies at Royals, 1:55 p.m.
March 25: Rockies at Angels Angels, 2 p.m.
March 27: Rockies vs. White Sox, 2 p.m.
March 28: Rockies vs. Kansas City Royals, 2 p.m.

Following are games scheduled to be televised on AT&T SportsNet:

March 10: Rockies vs. Padres, 1 p.m.
March 11: Rockies vs. Cubs, 1 p.m.
March 13: Rockies vs. Mariners, 1 p.m.
March 15: Rockies vs. Dodgers, 2 p.m.
March 27: Rockies vs. White Sox, 2 p.m.
March 28: Rockies vs. Royals, 2 p.m.

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