Slowly but surely, David Dahl is rounding back into form.
The Albuquerque Isotopes outfielder is working his way back to full strength after missing the first half of the season with a stress reaction fracture in his rib cage.
The frustrating, mysterious injury cost Dahl a chance at starting for the Colorado Rockies in left field.
“Yeah, I’m feeling a lot better,” Dahl said Friday. “My body is getting back into it being able to play every day. I feel good.”
Dahl was not feeling very good earlier this season.
“It was very frustrating, just to start progressing and then have it come back,” he said. “Finally I went out to Arizona and I was working out of the (Rockies’) facility and going to this place Fischer Sports (Institute). They worked on me. I had a little misalignment back there. So they kind of worked on me and got everything aligned. Then I started feeling better, doing my rotation work, like mimicking swings. I kind of just went from there.”
Dahl was able to start what amounted to an extended rehab assignment on July 12 with High-A Lancaster. He spent two games there, going 3-for-7 with a home run.
From there, Dahl rejoined the Isotopes on July 14. Dahl would go on to play 14 straight games before he was given Friday night off.
“It’s not easy coming in at the end of the season when everyone is in midseason form and I’m just in spring training mode,” he said. “I’ve just come in and tried to do my best.”
Dahl has hit .271/.306/.475 with two home runs and 14 RBI through Thursday.
“He’s doing well,” Isotopes manager Glenallen Hill said. “I think each day he’s becoming more and more comfortable being inside his own body. He’s looking very good.”
Dahl had his best game so far Thursday, going 3-for-5 and falling just a double shy of the cycle. He credited his hitting coach with getting his swing back to where he wants it to be.
“It’s getting there,” Dahl said. “I felt like (Thursday) after my first at-bat I made a good adjustment, talking with (Darin) Everson about my swing, just talking about how I was missing a lot of fastballs I should be hitting. It was just timing-wise. We talked about getting back to hitting with authority and purpose instead of just picking my foot up to pick it up. It was about getting more aggressive.”
Dahl also got to test himself in a tough situation when he and right fielder Noel Cuevas both went after a flyball in the gap and ended up colliding. Not only was it a test of his healed rib cage, but also a test for a player who ended up losing his spleen after an outfield collision in 2015.
“We both saw that we were both about to hit and we both did a good job of bracing for it,” Dahl said. “It wasn’t as bad as it might have looked. I started to see him about to crash in and thought, ‘Oh, no, not again.’ But it was thankfully not that bad.”
Hill said it was actually an odd sort of a positive play.
“I think David is kind of happy that that he went through that,” Hill said. “It’s just like sliding the first time after you’ve been out for an ankle (injury).”
“Yeah, just to have that happen and see that I’m fine, that’s definitely good,” he said.
The Rockies’ winning ways in the Majors have Dahl excited to rejoin them, but he is fully aware that he is not ready to help yet.
“Definitely I want to get up there and help them win but right now I’ve got to be where my feet are here and just get the at-bats and get back into it, playing every day and getting my swing back, so whenever it does happen I can contribute,” Dahl said.
The Isotopes will continue their series with the Iowa Cubs on Sunday night at 6:05.