Nuñez improving against offspeed pitches

May 9th, 2021

With his three-run double during Saturday’s loss to the Cardinals, Dom Nuñez increased his National League-leading rookie RBI total to 18, and he gained positive reinforcement.

The hit came on a slider from Cardinals right-hander Carlos Martínez. It was one that missed the intended outside spot and hung in the middle of the plate, but no matter. Nuñez had been missing all kinds of breaking pitches this year. According to Statcast, he is 2-for-20 with 15 strikeouts in at-bats ending in breaking pitches.

Struggles with bending pitches are a key reason why Nuñez's batting average was .203 going into Sunday, when Elias Díaz started the finale of a three-game series against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

Of course, there is plenty to like about Nuñez’s bat. Going into Sunday, his five home runs were tied for second on the club with C.J. Cron, behind Ryan McMahon’s eight. Of Nuñez’s 14 hits, 10 were for extra bases, and he had hit .310 (9-for-29) with runners on base and .300 (6-for-20) with runners in scoring position.

So while Nuñez’s approach has been to concentrate on hitting fastballs -- which often come with runners aboard -- he knows he must develop with attacking other pitches. Nuñez has gone 3-for-11 against offspeed pitches this year.

“That's what Dom continues to work on -- the soft stuff, and the soft stuff away from him,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “That’s the thing Dom and the hitting coaches are working toward, more consistency with those two things. And there's going to be incremental improvement as each month goes by -- these things don't happen overnight.”

Injury updates
• Right-hander Yency Almonte came off the 10-day injured list (right hand contusion) on Sunday, and Black announced that righty Antonio Senzatela will return from a right groin strain to start Monday's series opener against the Padres at Coors Field.

• Black said that Cron felt better Sunday after being scratched Friday and not playing Saturday because of lower back soreness. The team hopes to decide Monday whether he can stay active or will need to go on the IL.

• Left-hander Kyle Freeland (left shoulder strain) and second baseman Brendan Rodgers (right hamstring strain), who have not been on the Rockies’ active roster this year, will join the team’s extended Spring Training program in Scottsdale, Ariz., to continue their work. Freeland will throw four innings in a game there either Tuesday or Wednesday, Black said.

• Right-hander Carlos Estévez, who is eligible to return from a right middle finger strain on Monday, will need more time.

“He’s improving to the point where we hope to put a ball in his hand in the next couple of days,” Black said. “It got him pretty good. The finger was troublesome. We’ve got it quieted down quite a bit, to the point where Keith [Dugger, the Rockies’ head athletic trainer] feels confident we can play catch with Carlos.”

Rockies announce Honorary Bat Girl
The Rockies announced that Bobbie Foote will represent the club in support of the annual Honorary Bat Girl initiative -- an annual Mother’s Day initiative to highlight extraordinary efforts to support the fight against breast cancer. With the Rockies on the road Sunday, the team will honor her at Coors Field next Sunday.

Foote, who grew up in a military family, served 20 years in the Navy as a shipboard firefighter and completed five deployments in the Persian Gulf before retiring in 2013. She learned of her breast cancer diagnosis three years later. Her journey included four rounds of chemotherapy, hair loss and more surgeries over three years.

Foote remains under the care of her oncologist and is on medication to prevent cancer from returning. She credits her “fur babies” (two horses and a dog), her co-workers and her friends for bringing laughter.