SALT LAKE CITY -- Colorado Rockies manager Walt Weiss knows his club faces an uphill battle when it comes to evening out its home and road splits, but he doesn't want it to be a topic of conversation amongst the players and staff.
"The bottom line is we have to play the game right when we go on the road," Weiss said prior to the Rockies' spring training finale on Saturday at Spring Mobile Ballpark. "We have to be able to create and manufacture and execute the game, and that doesn't change regardless of where we play."
"We're trying to tell the guys we're the same club whether we're at home or on the road."
Unfortunately for Weiss and the Rockies, two decades worth of statistical proof says otherwise. Colorado has ended a season with a winning record on the road just once in franchise history, when the club went 41-40 away from Coors Field en route to a 92-70 overall finish. Last year, the Rockies went 29-52 on the road while struggling to adjust away from a ballpark that temporarily returned to its pre-humidor self.
Colorado has always struggled in San Francisco and Los Angeles, places where offense is traditionally suppressed. Weiss knows about that from his playing days, and wants to ensure the Rockies execute the little things, such as advancing baserunners and employing hit-and-run tactics, to overcome the obstacles they'll face in those cities.
"It just becomes more critical on the road that when it's time to do those things, we get them done," Weiss explained. Three-run homers are tough to hit, especially in the parks in our division, so you have to do the little things well."
In his first year on the job, Weiss will likely manage conservatively. We saw that in the season-opener on Monday, and we'll probably continue to see it. So, any drastic changes from what the team has done to fight the home versus road battle in the past simply aren't going to happen. However, Weiss did say one interesting thing in regards to how he might utilize his personnel differently away from Coors Field.
"We have some pieces we may mess around with. We can get real athletic on the road, and that may be something we do," Weiss quipped. We saw a little bit of that last August, during what was arguably the Rockies' best stretch of baseball in 2012. Eric Young Jr. served as the catalyst during a two-week stretch in which the Rockies went 8-5, hitting .426/.466/.648 from the leadoff spot. Roughly half of those games took place in San Francisco and Los Angeles, where the Rockies went a respectable 3-3.
One thing that could benefit the Rockies, if Young continues to improve upon his ability to reach base, would be utilizing the hit-and-run with a contact guy like Jordan Pacheco hitting behind Young. The Rockies tried it in the first inning of their loss to the Mariners on Saturday after Young scorched a line-drive single into center field, but Dexter Fowler -- who has been known to come up empty on a fair percentage of his swings -- was unable to make contact, and Young was thrown out at second.
Still, as agonizing as that brand of baseball can be to watch, it could very much benefit the Rockies if they decide to use it, especially when the offense is going through one of its patented road slumps.
Home games, however, should be a different story. "I feel like we have the greatest home field advantage in all of baseball and we need to exploit that, be aware of it and take advantage of opposing pitchers that come in (to Coors Field)," said Weiss. The Rockies can do that by wearing down pitchers and not wasting outs, which is where guys like Todd Helton, Dexter Fowler and Troy Tulowitzki -- guys with great plate patience and pitch selection skills -- will come in handy.
Troy Renck reviews Troy Tulowitzki's performance, which was a solid one, in Tulo's first action in 10 months.
Bernie Pleskoff says it won't be long until Nolan Arenado takes his impact bat to the big leagues.