Ben Paulsen: “Under the Radar” and Ready to Contribute
If someone asked you to name the five players on the Colorado Rockies who had 10 or more RBI 25 games into the season, Ben Paulsen’s name might not be one of the first that you think about … and that’s just fine with Paulsen and the Rockies.
Called an “under the radar player” by Colorado manager Walt Weiss, Paulsen has developed a penchant for playing wherever needed (first base or left field) and coming through in the clutch at the plate.
A perfect example came Friday night in Arizona when Paulsen was asked to come off the bench and pinch hit in the ninth inning. His one-out single would start a Colorado rally off Arizona’s Brad Ziegler that would be capped with Trevor Story’s two-run triple that helped the Rockies take a 5-2 decision. The momentum from that win would carry over the rest of the weekend as Colorado earned a road sweep over the Diamondbacks.
Paulsen, who has hit safely in 10 of his 12 starts this season, said the Arizona series was critical for the Rockies.
“Our starting pitching was outstanding,” Paulsen said. “(Tyler) Chatwood set the tone that first game, throwing first-pitch strikes. (Chris) Rusin was outstanding and then there was (Chad) Bettis, who’s kind of been our stopper. We had two wins ahead of him and Bettis going, we knew we had a chance to sweep. Especially after some of those tough games at home against Pittsburgh, we came back from some big deficits and had a chance to win and kind of let them go. It was huge for us to come to Arizona and get things going again.”
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Paulsen quickly deflects any kind of credit thrown his way, which says a lot about who he is and what he contributes to the team, Weiss said.
“He probably does stay under the radar for most people,” Weiss offered. “I’m just proud of where he’s come from and where he is today. There’s a lot of perseverance in there. When he’s gotten an opportunity over the last couple of seasons, he’s really performed. I’m really proud of him. He’s a nice weapon to have. He’s a dangerous bat with power and he’s gotten many clutch hits for us over the past few seasons. He’s got a knack in those big at-bats to deliver. When he gets up in those situations, he’s tough. It’s a great thing to have as a player to have that as a part of your identity, to perform in those tough at-bats and tough situations and Benny has done that.”
When asked about being an “under the radar” player, Paulsen smiled.
“I take that as a compliment,” he said. “It’s like our team, it’s a snake in the grass just waiting in the weeds to attack and stay under the radar. My aspect is coming off the bench and helping the team win.”
The 28-year-old Paulsen entered Tuesday night’s contest in San Diego batting .296 on the season with his lone homer of the season coming on April 16 at Cincinnati in a game where he drove in a season-high three runs. His approach at the plate is simple, he says.
“I just try to take every bat one at a time and slow everything down,” Paulsen said. “I try to come up with a plan and a way to attack a pitcher. It’s either by looking at video or seeing his repertoire and going from there.”
After earning his reputation, Ben Paulsen knows that he will be called upon in important situations to come through at the plate rather than in the field. Still, he’s content to do whatever it takes to help the Rockies win.
Next: Looking Back at Colorado's April Achievements
“It’s hitter first,” Paulsen said when describing his mentality in the dugout. “I know I’ll probably come in as a pinch hitter rather than for defensive reasons, especially with Mark (Reynolds) over there now. He’s unbelievable. The outfield is tremendous too. I’m a hitter first and things will take things from there. I might have both gloves on the bench and if I need to go, I’ll go.”