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Tauchman feeling more confident at plate in '18

MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies outfielder Mike Tauchman's way of making sure he's counted in has resurfaced this spring.

Tauchman, who did not play in Monday's 5-4 loss against the Cubs, has a .364/.481/.682 slash line, with a homer, two doubles and a triple in 10 Cactus League games. And, with manager Bud Black experimenting with lineups that would allow him to drop Charlie Blackmon from leadoff to the No. 3 spot, Tauchman is 3-for-7 with a double, a walk and a stolen base.

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies outfielder Mike Tauchman's way of making sure he's counted in has resurfaced this spring.

Tauchman, who did not play in Monday's 5-4 loss against the Cubs, has a .364/.481/.682 slash line, with a homer, two doubles and a triple in 10 Cactus League games. And, with manager Bud Black experimenting with lineups that would allow him to drop Charlie Blackmon from leadoff to the No. 3 spot, Tauchman is 3-for-7 with a double, a walk and a stolen base.

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In Sunday's 7-6 loss to the Angels, Tauchman went 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout from the leadoff spot. Able to play all three outfield positions, the speedy Tauchman ranged from right field to right-center to rob Zack Cozart of possible extra bases.

With Gerardo Parra recovering from right hand surgery (he could be back in a week or so), the Rockies have primarily used Raimel Tapia in the leadoff spot, where he is 4-for-18 with a double, a homer, eight strikeouts and no walks in the top spot in the order. Veteran Ian Desmond has made two appearances at the top of the lineup, and David Dahl has made one (1-for-3).

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But Tauchman, whose climb through the Minors was not accompanied by prospect hype, is performing well enough for consideration for the roster and occasional starts. A former 10th-round pick who has hit for average at every level, Tauchman put into action adjustments in his swing and homered a career-high 16 times at Triple-A Albuquerque last season to earn his first big league call-up.

"It's been huge," Tauchman said. "I feel a lot more confident this year at the plate. The opportunity to face more quality Major League arms is huge, because then you can evaluate what you're doing and what adjustments need to be made."

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With talented young players who offer many lineup options, and plenty of spring left to do the sorting, it's not clear how, or if, Tauchman, 27, will fit on the Opening Day roster or in the batting order. But, he has demonstrated ability that will be useful to the Major League club.

"In big league camp last year, he played good defense, showed some speed, showed the bat-to-ball skill, and when the season began in Albuquerque, he just took off and was a focal point of a lot of our player development people," said Black, who placed Tauchman on the roster for the National League Wild Card game.

Tools that work in the leadoff spot -- and a well-thought method -- could help Tauchman's cause.

Video: LAA@COL: Tauchman crushes solo home run to center

"The key is that I put my body in a position to hit every pitch, regardless of the count," Tauchman said. "That way, I'm truly locked in on my zone and tracking the baseball and swinging at hittable pitches. For me, the count is kind of irrelevant in that way. I'm just trying to get my best swing off."

Injury update

Black said right-handed rotation competitor Jeff Hoffman -- scratched before Sunday's game because of right shoulder soreness -- has improved, but will not be in a game for another week to 10 days.

Lab work

The first four batters right-handed reliever Adam Ottavino faced in the sixth against the Cubs were left-handed, and he yielded two singles and a walk. But he coaxed the first righty he saw, Mark Zagunis, into a double play to end the scoreless frame.

Pluses and minuses

Rockies starter Tyler Anderson threw 52 pitches in two innings, with his last pitch being hammered by Anthony Rizzo for a home run. He walked three and gave up two runs on three hits. "He got the ball up -- I've seen a little bit of that with some of our guys," Black said. "But, what I like, is that he held his stuff for 50-plus pitches here early in the spring, which is a good sign."

Left-hander Mike Dunn, in his Rockies' Cactus League debut, also yielded a homer, to Ian Happ.

"I liked his stuff," Black said. "The ball was coming out really good, the velocity numbers were great, the action on his pitches was his norm. I saw what I wanted to see from him as far as his stuff."

Right-hander Yency Almonte, the Rockies' No. 10 prospect, was perfect for 1 1/3 innings until he was hit by Ali Solis' liner on the outside of the right arm to start the ninth. Almonte served up Ryan Court's game-deciding homer after being attended to by trainers, and walked the next two before leaving. "He's fine -- he threw the ball great," Black said. "Boy, those first two innings were crisp."

Up next

Right-hander German Marquez, who threw two scoreless innings with two strikeouts in his first spring outing, is scheduled for three innings against the Mariners on Tuesday at Peoria, Ariz., at 6:40 p.m. MT. Left-hander Sam Howard, the Rockies' No. 17 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, also is scheduled to pitch. Watch the game live on MLB.TV.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.

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