DENVER -- Dexter Fowler is ahead of his own curve. Rarely thought of as a power hitter, Fowler is defying expectation with a share of the team high of four home runs this season.
Fowler hit five last season (four of which came in August and September), and his career high is six.
"I worked out in the offseason and got a lot stronger," he said of his newfound power. "But I think it's just knowing my swing and having a good foundation."
Fowler hit homers in both of the first two games of the Mets series after manager Jim Tracy moved him to the eight-spot in the lineup so that he could relax and "just swing the bat." Fowler had made all his previous starts of the season in the two-hole.
"He's driving the ball," Tracy said. "Part of relaxing is not only mentally but physically your body relaxes. If you allow yourself to get into that position and as [a] result of that, there's no restriction to your swing and the barrel of the bat comes through the strike zone a lot freer and you start catching the ball out there where you're supposed to instead of catching it a lot deeper in the hitting area and or you don't catch it at all."
Tracy has been encouraging Fowler to keep his swing short, and has some concern that Fowler could start lengthening his swing again if he starts swinging for the fences.
"The better approach is try to barrel up the ball and square it up and hit it and create backspin with a hard groundball, a hard line drive in mind, and all of a sudden here goes a the ball and it just carries out of the ball park," Tracy said. "I know for a fact you can hit 15-20 home runs that way and you can hit a whole [heck] of a lot of runs in between the ones that do go out of the park."
Fowler is on board with the approach, but at 6'4", a short swing isn't always easy to execute.
"I've got long arms and a lot of leverage," Fowler said. "It's always going to be a challenge to keep my swing short. I've been hitting the ball before, even in Pittsburgh [in the previous series]. I was just hitting it right at people. It's part of the game, and you just have to keep swinging."