Rodgers (3 hits) finishing with a flourish

September 19th, 2023

SAN DIEGO -- Rockies second baseman is seeing results from his reconstructed swing. But wait until the real construction project takes place.

Rodgers went 3-for-4 with a walk and two RBIs, including a run-scoring single during a comeback that fell short in the Rockies’ 11-9 loss to the Padres at Petco Park.

During his season-best five-game hit streak, Rodgers is 10-for-18. It’s the makings of a nice finish for Rodgers, who missed the season’s first 105 games because of left shoulder surgery.

The success, which Rodgers hoped would have occurred before now, fuels his dreams for what right now is a patch of land near his home in Orlando, Fla. Rodgers is planning a training facility, to which he will invite fellow Rockies, and other successful Major Leaguers from the area.

“We’ve broken ground,” Rodgers said. “We haven’t started building yet. We’ve got to build up some ground, stake it out. I would say the building will be up within the next three weeks. We have all the plans for the inside -- the cage guide, the turf, the gym floor. We have all that lined up.

“I would say the first or second week in November, I should be in there. That’s when I should be starting to work out.”

His performance Monday improved Rodgers’ slash line over 34 games this year to .252/.317/.315 with no home runs, six doubles, a triple and 14 RBIs. Much as he wanted to come back on fire, “it’s been a grind.” There was even a brief absence when he jammed his right shoulder (the one that was operated on in 2019) during the team’s last road trip.

But his pitch selection is showing up, and he can build on it.

“It took me some time, but there are minor tweaks we have been working on, and I’m just trying to stay focused and put together those quality at-bats,” Rodgers said. “I’m starting to feel good and swinging at the right pitches. I’m trying to put the ball in play, hit it hard.”

The Rockies believe Rodgers can be a run producer. He knocked 15 home runs in 2021 and 13 in 2022, but team and player believe more production is in there. But the injury delayed that project.

Manager Bud Black has recently been using Rodgers lower in the batting order -- eighth on Monday -- to allow him to find his swing without production pressures

“He’s getting some balls through, and the swings are a little crisper,” Black said. “I thought the last one [a single to center in the ninth] against Josh Hader was probably his best swing, as far as bat speed and being on the fastball.”

At 27, Rodgers was the median in Monday’s lineup in terms of age and experience. He’s on the older end in some games. But games like Monday are invigorating.

With starter Ty Blach (seven runs on nine hits, including three home runs) struggling, the Rockies trailed, 11-3, after five innings. But a homer by Nolan Jones (3-for-5) in the sixth and a triple by Brenton Doyle in the eighth sparked a comeback. Like in an 11-10 loss to the Giants on Sunday afternoon, it wasn’t enough. But the Rockies are showing signs of a dangerous offense.

“We battled, but we ended up being one swing away,” Rodgers said.

By next season, Rodgers hopes he will have a swing that can be depended upon to turn games.

At his facility, he will train with Rockies 2020 first-round Draft pick Zac Veen, an outfielder who has missed much of the season because of left hand surgery. He’ll pick the brains of the Orioles’ Austin Hays and the Nationals’ Dylan Crews.

Rodgers has invited Rockies rookie shortstop Ezequiel Tovar, who doubled in a run and scored Monday, to spend time working on defense with him.

Rodgers also wants to fit his facility with analytics tools and use the information to increase the efficiency of his swing.

“The main thing is being able to slow the swing down, see video, assess and go from there,” Rodgers said. “I’ve really never hit with technology like that. I’m not going to dive in too deep, but focus on what works for me.”