Elias Diaz walked into the batter’s box Monday night determined to not swing at pitches out of the strike zone, hit line drives, and be aggressive when he got a fastball.
The Rockies’ catcher faced only two pitches against the Mets before making good on that mentality. Diaz rocked starter David Peterson with a 371-foot home run — the first for Diaz this season — in a rare Colorado road victory.
“It was extremely exciting,” Diaz said. “After all the hard work and finally seeing some results. It’s something that continues to motivate me to continue to work.”
The Rockies began this season with high hopes that Diaz and fellow catcher Dom Nunez would be a source of offensive strength. Each player has struggled at the plate, though.
Nunez is hitting .183. Diaz is at .135. The pair has combined to strike out 64 times.
Rockies manager Bud Black remains optimistic his catchers are near an offensive breakout.
“It was a good sign that Diaz hit a homer. Maybe that will help him exhale a little bit,” Black said. “With catching, we felt good about the offensive component with those guys. That’s sort of gone the other way. But it’s a long season. I still think the catching will be productive offensively.”
Healthy rotation. Kyle Freeland’s return from the injured list this week means the Rockies finally have their full starting rotation healthy at the same time this season. Entering Tuesday night, Colorado ranked sixth in all of baseball with 21 quality starts.
“It’s a good feeling,” Black said. “We didn’t lose much with Chi Chi (Gonzalez) as you know. He pitched well. But it’s good to get Kyle back. He’s such a big part of this group from a leadership standpoint and as a competitor. The rest of the group feeds off each other and Kyle is a big part of that.”
Roster moves. The Rockies have optioned reliever Lucas Gilbreath to Triple-A Albuquerque, the team announced on Tuesday, to make room for Freeland on the active roster. Gilbreath — a 25-year-old Southpaw and Legacy High School graduate — has appeared in eight Rockies games this season.
“Two years ago, in 2019, he was in Lancaster as a starting pitcher,” Black said. “So, his volume of work as a reliever is not great. The move to the bullpen really has happened recently. He’s got to get used to that role both mentally and physically. But this is a bright kid. He’s handled it well taking on this new role as a pitcher.
“He just needs repetitions. … I do think he’s a quick study to be able to get up to speed fairly quick.”
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