Confident Dahl finds peace of mind, swing

July 25th, 2020

Rockies center fielder kept his fears quiet for much of the last three weeks.

Without a spleen because of a 2015 on-field collision, Dahl’s immune system, always a concern, was problematic because of the COVID-19 pandemic that delayed the season. Add to that the fact his wife, Jacquelyn, is pregnant with the couple’s first child, and no wonder he avoided interviews through Summer Camp. He had to answer the questions about the safety of playing for himself and his family first.

But because he has seen enough of MLB’s testing protocols to feel confident, Dahl -- a first-time All-Star last season -- was full-go as the Rockies’ leadoff hitter in Friday night’s season opener against the Rangers at Globe Life Field. And Dahl, who had the Rockies' only three hits in their 1-0 loss, felt at ease enough to announce the expected January arrival of “Baby Dahl” in an Instagram photo with Jacquelyn and their golden retriever, Rookie.

“That's why I held off for so long talking to people,” Dahl said. “I just wanted to see how the protocols and everything played out during Summer Camp. With me being high risk and with my wife Jacquelyn getting pregnant, just want to make sure we're being taken care of ... and safe.

“So far, so good. You know, I think the testing is going well. Guys and the guys’ families are doing a good job of limiting their exposure and being smart. I’m excited to get going now. I was definitely nervous coming in, but I'm a lot more relieved.”

Well, last week was a bit troublesome.

Dahl, whose well-documented injury history includes a high right ankle sprain that limited his 2019 to 100 games, received a scare a little over a week ago when core tightness arose. He sat out a couple of intrasquad games.

“I got a little tight, and then I was a little paranoid with what was going on,” Dahl said. “I took those days, got my mind ready, and once everything started feeling good, that’s when I locked in.”

The real confidence came during Tuesday’s exhibition against the Rangers. His plate appearances against righty Kyle Gibson (a four-pitch walk) was the antipodes of his second (a three-pitch strikeout). Next time up, Dahl lifted a 1-2 slider into the right-field seats for a two-run homer.

“The last two or three days at Coors, I was feeling good, got some hits, started driving the ball and my timing was there … and the home run really helped,” Dahl said. “With two strikes, I felt like I really saw it well.”

Dahl’s peace of mind is as important as his swing.

“I know that David was a little apprehensive, but he’s come through it,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “My conversations with David have always been that he was positive, continuing to get ready to play, that there would not be anything in the back of his mind once we got underway in Denver. I think his mind is at ease based on what all of us are doing around the ballpark, around hotels.”

Together in support
In a promised show of solidarity, the teams held a black ribbon in support of Black Lives Matter and in a call for social justice. Outfielder/designated hitter remained kneeling for The Star-Spangled Banner. Shortstop , who has spoken out on the police killing of George Floyd and unequal treatment for Blacks, promised Thursday that something would be done.

"I've spoken out on it and you know my stance on it," Story said. "It's something that we met about and we feel strongly about as a team. It's something we came up with together, and it came about organically from the hearts of our teammates."