The theme from this year’s Rockies Fest certainly could be summed up in two words: Bounce Back.
Big Sean’s anthem will have to be the theme song for the upcoming season 2020 if this team is going to stay together. Many Colorado Rockies were optimistic during the press conference but that confidence comes from a chip on their shoulders much bigger than anything you can buy from Frito Lay.
Rox Pile and other media members caught up with David Dahl and Bud Black on Saturday to talk about how they are approaching the upcoming season. Every Rockies fan is hoping that last year was an aberration but Dahl acknowledged that the team will have to pick themselves up in order for that to ring true.
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"“We’re going to have to pick ourselves back up. We’ve got to prove to everybody how good we can be. Last year we came in, everyone was talking about us and we we’re feeling ourselves a little bit, and it just didn’t go our way. We played bad baseball,” Dahl said.“So, this year we’re going to have a little chip on our shoulders and show everyone what we have.”"
When asked is that pressure or is that motivation, Dahl didn’t miss a beat.
“I think that’s motivation.”
Manger Bud Black hears that criticism of a lost season in 2019 but points to the playoff experience many of the players in his clubhouse still have and will need to pull from to turn their fortunes around this year. Black argues that this club isn’t much different than those successful teams with some minor tweaks.
He chronicled what happened last year bouncing back from a rough start to go six games above .500 only to be slowed down by a mountain of injuries and an abysmal July. He pointed to the character of this team though when they fought hard in September when there wasn’t much to fight for. Black is leaning into the idea that this team has a chip on its collective shoulder with something to prove.
"“There is a component of that, you know, taking it personal, a little bit to prove that we’re a much better team than how it ended up last year,” Black said. “And to David’s point which is great. There is a little bit of…a chip or you know, taking last year personal and to prove that we’re a better team.”"
Black has some experience playing experience being on a team that did not perform to expectations on a 1983 Kansas City Royals team that only won 79 games after a 90-win 1982 campaign. The Royals made the playoffs in 1984 and, of course, won the the whole thing in 1985.
"“I can show you how from one season to the next things can be drastically different. I think in baseball, players always feel that way. Especially if there’s been past successes,” he said."
Dahl had his biggest successes in 2019 even if he didn’t finish the season the way he anticipated, succumbing to another serious season-ending injury, but that didn’t ruin his optimism of the upcoming season. He didn’t want to speak to the offseason rumblings around Nolan Arenado and not looking at the additions of the teams in the divisions have made but said he expects guys including himself to bounce back.
For himself staying on the field the whole season is the way to do that. When he’s on the field, he’s proven that he is an All-Star talent. He said he hasn’t trained any differently in the offseason or changed his diet to stay on the field. To be fair, most of Dahl’s injuries have been freak accidents that no one could prepare for.
"“I’m hoping that’s all behind me,” he said about his injuries. “Not thinking about it. Just thinking positive and help this team win.”"
Dahl defined his success not through numbers for 2020 but through circumstances. He’d like to cut down on chasing pitches and taking more walks. Early last year, Dahl felt like he hit a lot of balls off the top of the wall. He started working in BP to lift the ball more and that translated in a year with increased power numbers. He was hitting more on the pull side with consistent backspin instead of topping the ball. Look for Dahl to continue that trend right at the beginning of the season.
With the glove, he said he’d like to stick in center field but is confident that he can play anywhere in Coors expansive outfield. But none of that matters if he’s not on the field. This offseason, none of that presents an issue.
"“I’m fully healthy. Running. Agility. I’m doing it all so I’m good. It’s been a normal offseason. I’ve healed pretty quickly after the season. I’m clear to go,” Dahl said."