Notes: Svetich has calming effect

Notes: Svetich has calming effect

ST. LOUIS -- Rockies mental-skills coach Ronn Svetich insists the confidence and calm that the club began to display when he showed up is just coincidence.

Svetich, who works with Minor League and Major League players, joined the club for its current road trip, which began with four straight victories over the Nationals before Friday night's loss in the opener of three against the Cardinals.

Svetich, who has become more of a presence in the organization since Clint Hurdle was hired as manager in April 2002, makes several road trips a season. Some of the trips are scheduled, and other times he may be called to deal with specific issues. An issue Svetich tackled in the past was the Rockies' traditional road struggles, and he has endured some rough trips in terms of wins and losses. From that standpoint, this has been his best trip, as the Rockies entered Saturday night with an 18-17 record away from Coors.

"Either way, I have no idea why that is, so I'm not going to say anything about that," Svetich said with a laugh. "This was one of the trips I had planned in Spring Training."

While working with Minor Leaguers, Svetich monitors the big club and stays available for the staff and individual players. He also consults with Hurdle if a team-wide issue arises.

"Like, let's say the runners in scoring position," Svetich said. "They'd been having a difficult time getting them in, but they seem to have overcome that now. It's not a big issue."

With the club in a calm state and no pressing issue overall, Svetich is either seeking out players or making sure he is available for personal conversations.

"That comes in the clubhouse here or if we're in BP and I go shag, I'll go talk to them," Svetich said. "Sometimes in the shower -- it doesn't matter where."

Because Svetich has built a relationship with every player who has come through the Rockies system, his presence is welcome and not thought to be unusual.

"It's kind of private, but if you want to use Ronn, you can," left fielder Matt Holliday said. "He's a real resource. Ronn is a good guy, and he has a lot of knowledge."

Nice and easy: Rockies right fielder Brad Hawpe entered Saturday with home runs in two straight games and with 10 of his 13 homers this season coming on the road. Hawpe's homer on Friday was Colorado's only run in a 5-1 loss.

Hawpe struggled during the Rockies' last homestand, going 0-for-17 before breaking the slump in Monday's opener of the series at Washington.

At times during the homestand, Hawpe was seen icing his shoulder. He admitted that sometimes small aches and pains play a role in slumps because they divide a player's concentration, but in this case, Hawpe said, soreness was not to blame.

"Sometimes you go through cold spells, and I did because I was going too fast," Hawpe said. "I got out of it by trying to drive the ball the other way. I had a plan, instead of just [going] up there swinging."

"I feel good; everything is good. I was icing because it's a long season, and things get sore. It wasn't an injury or anything to keep me out of the lineup. I had just really sped up at the plate. The Dodgers had a lot to do with it. They pitched me well."

Mesa returns: Right-hander Jose Mesa has completed his three-game suspension for hitting the Giants' Omar Vizquel with a pitch on April 22 as part of a long-running feud.

While ineligible, Mesa said he threw a bullpen session on Friday, but otherwise rested his arm and concentrated on other aspects of conditioning. Rules state that a suspended player can't be in uniform, on the bench or in the clubhouse during the game, so Mesa took in the last three contests on television at the team's hotel.

"I could be in the stadium sitting in the stands, but I don't want to do that," Mesa said. "It makes it tougher."

A little rest: Hurdle decided on Saturday night to rest second baseman and leadoff man Jamey Carroll, who has a career .143 batting average against Cards starter Jeff Suppan. Omar Quintanilla started at second and batted second. Center fielder Cory Sullivan, who was 6-for-7 career against Suppan, took the top spot.

Hurdle said the main motivation was keeping Carroll fresh.

"It's basically to give Carroll a blow, because tomorrow's game is a day game and then we've got four more games at home before we get a day off," Hurdle said. "He'll be right back in there tomorrow at the top of the lineup."

The current road trip has been to two of the more humid cities in the NL, Washington and St. Louis. Hurdle said he is taking weather into account when making lineup decisions.

"I actually keep an eye on it from the beginning of the season, but you highlight it during the hot days," Hurdle said. "When it gets hot, you have time zone schedules and time zone changes. All of that comes into play."

Hurdle said he is "pushing the envelop" by continuing to start Holliday, third baseman Garrett Atins and first baseman Todd Helton, but he is hoping to stay with them until Thursday's off-day.

Up next: Right-hander Josh Fogg (4-4, 4.91) will meet Cards right-handed ace Chris Carpenter (5-3, 2.57) on Sunday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 12:15 p.m. MT.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.