Rockies third baseman Josh Fuentes has begun to turn things around after a slow start to the season.
In April, Fuentes hit .195 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 25 games. Since then, he has slashed .308/.357/.538 in 10 May games going into Friday, and has had key moments, including homering to end the Rockies' homerless streak at six games and hitting a walk-off RBI single against the Padres in the second game of a doubleheader on May 12.
The difference between April and May for Fuentes: Being himself.
“I always felt like for me to move up and start playing every day, especially in the Minors, I always felt like I had to go above and beyond just to put myself on the map,” Fuentes said. “When I got here, I just felt like I still had to do that, to keep going above and beyond -- above and beyond just to play. But what I'm starting to realize this past week and a half, is I don't need to do that.”
Being himself is something that Fuentes has tried to do at every level.
He hit 66 home runs over six Minor League seasons, batting .291 with 353 RBIs. He was told by Minor League instructors that if he wanted to play the corner-infield spots, then he had to improve his power numbers.
He said he trusted his abilities and was confident that he wasn’t “just a pure power hitter” as he worked his way through the Minors and made his MLB debut for the Rockies in 2019.
When Fuentes signed with Colorado and reached the Majors, the familial connection was drawn with his cousin, current Cardinal and former Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado.
Amid the recent stretch of success this season, Fuentes has focused on not worrying about what others expect of him.
“I need to do what I'm capable of doing,” Fuentes said. “I think that the past couple of days have shown that. … I don't have to be Mike Trout, I'm not going to be Nolan. I'm just going to be Josh.”
Overcoming the slow start has been a relief for Fuentes, who hadn’t been having as much fun during the slump. Now that he feels more comfortable, Fuentes says he takes in how special the opportunity is that he has in front of him.
“I usually tend to refresh or restart the day pretty well,” he said. “I never really wake up all angry. I usually wake up pretty happy, but when I felt that pressure when I was getting to the field, it felt like it was kind of daunting on me and overwhelming. But now, I've just got to come to the field and, honestly, just be grateful. Be grateful that I'm in a big league clubhouse and I get to start and I get to showcase my talent.”
• Jhoulys Chacín (0-1, 5.84 ERA) will make his first start of the season for the Rockies on Saturday. He has thrown 12 1/3 innings in six bullpen appearances.
• First baseman Matt Adams was placed on the 10-day IL with a shin bruise. In his place, the Rockies have called up relief pitcher Justin Lawrence from Triple-A Albuquerque.