For Colorado Rockies catcher Tony Wolters, it’s been a crazy 11 months. Now, with a completely different focus heading into the season, the 24-year-old catcher is looking to make things simple, whether he’s at the plate or behind it.
“My focus is to simplify the game. It will make me relax when I simplify things,” Wolters said. I’m really working on simplifying my swing, catching and my thought process. When I simplify, I can think. You’re always working on things. Baseball is hard but simplifying the game is a key for me.”
On Monday, Wolters was in Golden as part of the Rockies Caravan, joining teammates Chad Bettis and DJ LeMahieu on the fan-centered tour. Flash back a year ago and Wolters was still with the Cleveland Indians, trying to find his place. In mid-February, that changed when the Rockies claimed him off waivers from Cleveland. Now, Wolters is competing with Tom Murphy for the Opening Day starting role behind the plate.
In his first Major League season, Wolters hit .259 in 230 plate appearances. More than statistics, however, Wolters believes the experience he gained last season will pay dividends in 2017.
“I didn’t know what playing in the big leagues was,” Wolters said. “I had a picture in my head, but it wasn’t the exact picture. Now I can picture it. We’re going to L.A.? We’re going to Cincinnati? I can picture the field. I can picture myself playing there. That experience will pay off and make me feel more comfortable on the field. That will help me play better as well.”
Despite entering this spring with a new team and new focus, Wolters said he didn’t change his offseason approach.
“I didn’t change my offseason,” Wolters said. “I’ve been working at the facility in Arizona. I usually work five days a week and I didn’t change anything this year. I probably took a little more time on my legs but, other than that, no changes. I feel like I’m in a good spot. My swing feels good. I’ve been doing catching drills with all the catchers. I feel like my body is in a really good spot. I’m excited to get the season going.”
Excitement was one of the key elements in the room during the Rockies Caravan stop in Golden. Wolters can feel it, but insists it doesn’t add any pressure.
“I think everyone is so excited for the season. Front office, team, everyone is ready to get after it. It’s going to be a fun and exciting year,” Wolters said. “There’s no pressure. Our team is so close-knit with each other so our teammates take that off each other. They make it very comfortable. There’s an urgency. It’s like, ‘Hey, let’s go. We’re winning so get on the train.’ That’s the atmosphere. Everyone’s on board. Everyone talks to each other and we’re going to take advantage of it.”
Wolters know the potential of this team and also knows the positive predictions that are out there for the Rockies in 2017. He said he and his teammates are ready to embrace those predictions.
“Last year, we were disappointed. We want to win every game,” Wolters said. “We have the potential to be in the playoffs and be in the World Series and we’re really excited for that. Our team is very close. Everyone was talking to each other after the season and everyone is expecting to win this year.”