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Dahl busts slump with second homer

Outfield candidate had been 0-for-15 prior to Friday; Davis, McGee debut
Special to MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- One hit doesn't necessarily count as a slump buster. But deep homers to dead center field in back-to-back at-bats? For David Dahl, who accomplished the feat Friday and Saturday, he can confidently lay his slump to rest.

Bringing an 0-for-15 spring into Friday's game against the D-backs, Dahl entered the game midway, walked in his first at-bat, then homered to center in his second at-bat. On Saturday, he was starting in center and hitting cleanup, and he launched a solo shot over the center-field fence in his first trip to the plate, giving him back-to-back round-trippers.

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- One hit doesn't necessarily count as a slump buster. But deep homers to dead center field in back-to-back at-bats? For David Dahl, who accomplished the feat Friday and Saturday, he can confidently lay his slump to rest.

Bringing an 0-for-15 spring into Friday's game against the D-backs, Dahl entered the game midway, walked in his first at-bat, then homered to center in his second at-bat. On Saturday, he was starting in center and hitting cleanup, and he launched a solo shot over the center-field fence in his first trip to the plate, giving him back-to-back round-trippers.

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Dahl ended up going 1-for-3 in the Rockies' 6-5 loss to the Brewers.

"I just kind of forgot what happened last week and started a new week of games," Dahl said of his turning the corner. "Just try not to think at all, get ready to hit, have fun playing."

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The decision to step back from what may have been overthinking on his part came from some advice manager Bud Black gave him before Friday's game.

"Bud told me to watch some film for the first four innings, just relax up there, pick up some things," Dahl said. "I walked out here and he said I was on deck, so it was kind of like, 'Get in the game without thinking,' and I think that really helped me get up there and walk, and I just carried that with me."

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Dahl came into camp as a strong candidate for the fourth outfielder's slot. He was a favorite to start in 2017, after hitting .315 with seven homers and 24 RBIs in 63 games during his rookie season in 2016, but he ended up on the disabled list after sustaining a stress reaction in his rib cage during Spring Training.

"It was good to see another well-hit ball," Black said after Dahl's second homer. "The swings are better. It's good to see the confidence is growing after the last two days, which is always good for a player."

To Dahl's credit, he didn't let the 0-for-15 get him down, keeping his focus on the priorities he set as he competes for a roster spot.

"My body feels great as far as health, so that's a plus," Dahl said. "First and foremost, that's kind of what I wanted to see, just how my back felt, because I hadn't faced live pitching in so long, but it feels really good. It's a long Spring Training, so you just try to get as many at-bats and try to get back into it."

Back of the bullpen debuts

Set-up man Jake McGee and closer Wade Davis both made their Cactus League debuts Saturday, pitching a pair of scoreless innings to follow Kyle Freeland's three innings of three-run ball.

Video: Davis, Black on the reliever's first outing

McGee allowed a hit and a walk while striking out one in the fourth frame, and Davis pitched a 1-2-3 fifth, using seven pitches to induce a pair of groundouts and a popout to center.

"[Davis] looked sharp -- we saw a couple different breaking balls, located the fast ball -- he looked fine," Black said. "Jake showed really good arm speed, the fastball was crisp, and he mixed in a couple breaking balls, which was great."

Davis was 4-2 with a 2.30 ERA in 2017 and converted a Cubs record 32 consecutive saves.

"[You want to] see where you're at physically, get out there, and throw some strikes," Davis said of his spring approach. "I felt really good."

Gone fishin'

Earlier in the day, Davis won the First Annual Rockies Casting Contest as part of a team with Triple-A pitcher Shane Broyles.

"Wade Davis said that he could throw a lure in somebody's mouth from a great distance," Black said. "And he ended up winning!"

Up next

The Rockies travel to Tempe to take on the Angels Sunday at 1:10 p.m. MT with right-hander Jon Gray earning his second start. Watch live on MLB.TV.

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com.

Colorado Rockies, David Dahl