ARLINGTON -- A couple of days ago in Wrigley Field under the hot, humid sun, D-backs outfielder Kole Calhoun was on the field early. Arizona had cancelled batting practice and Calhoun would get his work in the underground batting cage.
But as he did his stretching in the outfield, he kept pantomiming his swing. No bat or ball in sight, just a veteran doing everything he could to recapture the feeling.
Calhoun had that feeling Tuesday night at Globe Life Park as he swung the bat well and played good defense in the D-backs' 5-4 loss to the Rangers.
"You're just kind of searching," Calhoun said. "I mean, I felt a little off mechanically."
There's good reason for that.
The season has been one of stops and starts for Calhoun. A knee injury required surgery this spring and forced him to miss the start of the season. Then a hamstring injury, which also required surgery, kept him on the shelf from April 28-July 10. Since returning, he was mired in a 4-for-37 slump.
D-backs manager Torey Lovullo decided to hit him leadoff Tuesday to give him as many at-bats as possible. He responded with a single off the wall in right in the first -- he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double -- and an RBI double in the third.
Calhoun hit the ball hard his final two at-bats as well, but didn't have the hits to show for it.
"He had a good day," Lovullo said. "I was asked pregame about leading him off, I just felt like he would get in a rhythm, get those reps that were needed and barrel the baseball. It was just a matter of time. He was working hard to have those types of days on both sides of the baseball. He’s exactly what we stand for. He takes pride in every part of his game."
There was almost a visible relief on Calhoun's face when he met the media postgame.
"It was nice to put the barrel on the ball a couple of times, honestly," Calhoun said. "It feels good. I’m able to help the team a little bit, get a couple of knocks, get on base. Yeah, it’s been tough, lately, honestly. To come out and have some decent at-bats feels good."
Calhoun also contributed defensively in the fourth when he made a running, leaping catch into the right-field wall on Jonah Heim's drive.
The surgery that Calhoun had on his left hamstring included the removal of a tendon and he somewhat kiddingly said that he got thrown out at second in the first inning because he had lost a step as a result from the procedure.
"It may not be as great as before I had every piece of my hamstring," he said. "It’s going to take some time, probably. It’s going to take an offseason of working through it and really, really strengthening up. You do as much as you can in rehab and come back strong and good enough to play, but there’s going to be growing pains. I literally had surgery. There’s going to be growing pains with anything. Getting older, too. Speed has never really been the biggest part of my game, so I’m not really worried about it."
Hitting, though, has been a big part of his game and at least for one night he got to see some progress after his pregame work with the Arizona hitting coaches.
"We made some pretty good improvement before the game," he said. "It came out and showed up in the game. I like how today went. I’ll build on that and keep going tomorrow."