Chris Owings returned to the Colorado Rockies lineup as a designated hitter on Wednesday in Seattle. Now that the Rockies are heading to a National League park to face the Milwaukee Brewers, how will the availability of Owings impact a number of things with the lineup?
Here is what the return of Chris Owings will mean for the Colorado Rockies.
"“Prior to his injury, he was probably our most productive offensive player,” Colorado manager Bud Black said on Wednesday. “It was a pretty small sample size, but he’s a veteran player and he’s versatile. I love the fact that he can play the infield and play the outfield and I actually think we gain a little defense wherever he is.”"
Owings’ return to the batting order on Wednesday was the first time he had played since April 9. He brought a slash line of .533/.588/1.133 in seven games into Wednesday’s game before striking out three times in four at-bats in Seattle.
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The 29-year-old Owings was red hot in April before suffering a thumb injury that required surgery and placed him on the 60-day injured list. It marked the second straight year that an injury had cost Owings time with the Rockies after a hot start. Put the two seasons together and Owings enters Friday with a combined .317/369/.583 slash line with an OPS of .953 and an OPS+ of 142 in 65 plate appearances over 25 games.
In his time in Denver, Owings has played every position except first base, catcher, and pitcher. Versatility is a key and Black will likely use Owings throughout the lineup and field moving forward.
When Owings was healthy in April, the Rockies were without Brendan Rodgers (who was working his way back from a hamstring injury). Rodgers has played both second and shortstop since returning to the Rockies on May 21, but could see some of his playing time impacted by Owings.
The same can be said for Garrett Hampson who, like Owings, plays both infield and outfield. However, Hampson is hitting .313 over his last seven games and Rodgers is hitting at a .280 clip during that same period, so neither player is in a current funk at the plate.
Yonathan Daza has become one of Colorado’s go-to options in center field and has provided a spark in the second spot in the lineup, recording at least one hit in 10 of his last 11 games. Owings has seen time in center field as well, so it’s possible he could spell Daza as well.
Owings will certainly see playing time in coming games as he tries to recapture his early April magic at the plate. With Colorado unable to employ a designated hitter again until July 26 (opener of a three-game road series against the Los Angeles Angels), Black will find ways to get Owings back into the lineup, and that could be at the expense of players such as Daza, Hampson, and Rodgers.
"“We’re going to bounce these guys around. We’re going to play them all, look for good matchups, play the hot hand, all those things,” Black said. “C.O. (Chris Owings) is in that mix.”"