Fowler adds size for endurance, power

Fowler adds size for endurance, power

MESA, Ariz. -- The seven pounds that Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler added this offseason were to help with durability. Playing in Coors Field's roomy outfield and stealing bases can cause much wear and tear.

Fowler did not show up with a goal of hitting home runs. Still, he didn't mind going deep Tuesday. The switch-hitter homered to left field against Cubs left-hander James Russell during an 11-4 loss to the Cubs at HoHoKam Stadium.

Fowler spent time training in Las Vegas at workouts organized by teammates Jason Giambi and Troy Tulowitzki, and came to camp not only stronger but more confident.

"It wasn't just for more power, but endurance and playing to my full potential," Fowler said. "You got guys around you, leaders on the team, veteran guys who give you respect that you always want. "

Last season, Fowler hit .266 with a .363 on-base percentage, both figures tying 2009 for his career best. He was far more successful after a June demotion to Triple-A Colorado Springs. After his return, Fowler hit .288 with a .381 on-base percentage, 22 doubles, 10 triples and five home runs -- all while fighting off multiple bumps and bruises.

"It was just the whole grind of the season," said Fowler, who recorded 10 of his 12 steals after returning. "Mentally I was there, but my knees were bothering me, my legs were a little tired.

"I signed up for 162 [games], and that's what I was going to play. Through all the ups and downs, you still have to go out there and battle."

The finish to the season earned Fowler respect from his teammates. Manager Jim Tracy wants Fowler not to be bashful about working his way into a leadership role. The 25-year-old, who made the team in 2009 despite not having played in Triple-A, is ready.

"You always want to think of yourself as a leader, verbally and by example," Fowler said. "I've been around here for a while. Finally, I feel I can voice my opinion."