HOUSTON -- Tyler Colvin's strong spring gave reason to believe he could have a breakout year with the Rockies, after he struggled with the Cubs last season.
Colvin, 26, hit .373 and posted a .612 slugging percentage in Spring Training. ACTA Sports recently released figures saying that players who slug 200 points above their career marks have a 60 percent chance of a breakout year. Only a couple of hitless games at the end of the Cactus League schedule pulled Colvin below the threshold (his career slugging percentage was .466 going into the year).
Colvin hit .150 last year but revamped his swing, as he showed while lashing a hard single to left as a pinch-hitter on Saturday night. Colvin made his first Rockies start Sunday, in center field and in the leadoff position, against the Astros.
Manager Jim Tracy likes the idea of Colvin at the top of the order.
"He's got enough speed to steal a base," Tracy said. "It's an intriguing aspect of having a guy up there that has the type of power that he has. When they come back around to the top of the lineup when we have men on base, they're going to have to respect his power."
The Rockies are sticking with center fielder Dexter Fowler as he works through some poor hitting habits that crept in during Spring Training, but the club is well-served by finding ways to put Colvin on the field. Colvin, a left-handed hitter, can play all three outfield positions, as well as first base.
Colvin said hitting the other way, as he did in an encouraging rookie season in 2010 with the Cubs (.254, five triples, 20 homers) and after he reworked his swing this spring, fits with the assignment of batting leadoff. Going into Sunday he had a .248 batting average and .307 on-base percentage as a leadoff man in 25 Major League games.
"It's just a matter of believing that all the work I put in is going to pay off, and I need to stay focused where I need to stay focused, not stray away," Colvin said.