Cron shares advice for new Rockies sluggers

Rockies set rotation for first series of 2022

April 6th, 2022

SCOTTSDLAE, Ariz. – Rockies first baseman C.J. Cron has been through a year of big production at Coors Field, all while balancing the vexing issue of the home-road splits that affect most everyone in purple uniforms.

With Kris Bryant and Randal Gruchuk about to experience the situation for the first time when the season opens Friday against the Dodgers, Cron said his best suggestion is to simply not worry so much about it.

Cron led the Rockies in home runs last year (28) and RBIs (92), and each number of his slash line -- .281/.375/.530 -- represented a career high. By season’s end, yes, there was a difference in OPS home and road (1.073 to .734, respectively). But at first, Cron said he anticipated a greater difference in breaking balls between home and road than what he encountered, and he was in his head more than necessary.

Purging the thought from his head led to some improvement. He hit .218 with three homers and a .682 OPS in the first half on the road, but he jumped to a .250 average with six homers and a .780 road OPS in the second.

“I put maybe a little bit too much stock in it early, almost psyched myself out,” said Cron, whose 1-for-2 performance in the Rockies' 10-3 win over the Guardians on Tuesday put him at a .367 average with a homer and four doubles this spring. “I’m a pretty simplistic hitter. I like to see the ball, hit the ball. There were too many thoughts rolling around in my head. I knew that I hit well at home, but didn’t get much into the stats.”

The funny thing is much is made of the difference in breaking balls, but Cron’s experience was the fastball had more consistent spin. But if he were asked by any hitter coming to the Rockies, especially Bryant and Grichuk, he would say don’t let the stats define you.

“What they’ve done is good enough,” Cron said. “It’s just sticking with it. If you have a rough road trip, it’s not the end of the world.”

Rotation set … or at least easy to guess
Manager Bud Black, confident in the health of righty Antonio Senzatela’s recently troublesome left leg, confirmed that the starters for the season-opening series against the Dodgers are as expected: Lefty Kyle Freeland will go on Friday, followed by right-handers Germán Márquez and Senzatela. Black hasn’t officially set the two-game series at Texas starting Monday.

However, Black likes to split his lefty starters, so expect Austin Gomber (who yielded three homers, including an inside-the-parker on Wednesday in four innings) on Monday and Chad Kuhl on Tuesday.

The top three in the rotation -- Freeland, Márquez and Senzatela -- broke into the Majors as rookies in 2017, the year that Black became Colorado's manager.

“I think back to their first year, which was my first year -- young pitchers excited to be Major Leaguers for the first time, rookies and all that goes into that,” Black said. “And now here they are, into their sixth year as experienced Major League pitchers, fine-tuning their craft. Opening Day starts for [Freeland and Márquez], an All-Star appearance for Germán.

“The conversations are way different than they were six years ago.”