LOS ANGELES -- Rockies' rookie catcher Wilin Rosario returned to the starting lineup on Wednesday after being off the past two games and playing just two of the past five.
Colorado manager Jim Tracy said the break was not only to give his 23-year-old backstop a rest, but also to give him some time to work on some things defensively with catching coach Jerry Weinstein.
"A couple days off to spend some additional time with Jerry, talk about it, work on some of these things," Tracy said. "[We want to] give him a day here and there where he's able to get back in the lab, do stuff with Jerry, see how it looks, because it's a very important aspect."
"We're working on a lot of things, but primarily just the blocking piece right now," Weinstein said. "Just a lot of little things every day. he's got a lot on his plate."
In particular, Tracy and Weinstein both said they want Rosario to "soften up" behind the plate, which would help his receiving and framing of pitches, but would also help him to deaden balls in the dirt to better control the rebound.
"The past couple days, we've worked on softening his body so he can absorb the ball more," Weinstein said. "In today's game, baserunners read balls in the dirt readily, so if the ball kicks too far away from you, they're going to advance and you start giving up free bases."
But blocking, while the focus this week, is just one facet of a catcher's game. Weinstein said he and Rosario also talk a great deal about game management, particularly realizing that while there may not always be one correct pitch for a given situation, confidence and conviction in choosing it is crucial -- something that can be tough for a young catcher to do consistently with a young pitching staff.
Perfecting Rosario's defensive skills is a priority for the Rockies because of the prolific success he's had offensively. Coming into Wednesday, Rosario was leading all National League rookies in home runs (18), RBIs (44) and slugging percentage (.522).
But the Rockies staff wants to give him ample time to develop defensively, Weinstein believes his pupil has already made great strides.
"I'm very close to the situation, so sometimes you don't see the forest through the trees," Weinstein said. "But if you look at what he did at the end of last year when he was up here and where he is now? It's like night and day."