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Switch-hitting paying off in big way for Fowler

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DENVER -- Rockies switch-hitting center fielder Dexter Fowler entered Saturday with three home runs this season -- all no-doubters, and all left-handed.

Well, remember 2011, when Fowler struggled from the left and there were suggestions being floated that he should quit switch-hitting? Fowler sure remembers answering questions about it, sensing that there was the possibility the Rockies would ask him to bat only right-handed. Fowler was a right-handed hitter in high school, and was taught to switch-hit when he turned pro with the Rockies.

No one ever actually asked him to end switch-hitting, nor did he ever figure out who thought that was a good idea. No person was ever publicly identified. Former manager Jim Tracy said at the time Fowler was going to find his stride as a switch-hitter, and there was no reason to change him.

"I'm still trying to figure out who the culprit is," Fowler said. "Tell them to come raise their hand and say, 'You know what? I was wrong.' I don't know who said it. Nobody's fessin' up to it. If you're man enough to say it, you should fess up to it. Nobody ever says anything.

"There's always a grapevine and nobody knows the source. And the source never speaks up when they're wrong."

Fowler spoke without bitterness, but he is proud of how he has developed as a switch-hitter. Last season, when he finished with a career-best .300 average, he hit .315 right-handed and a respectable .293 left-handed. He had more than twice the at-bats from the left (311) than from the right (143). He also hit 10 homers left-handed and three from the right.

"I knew I could hit right-handed and left-handed," Fowler said. "When I first started, obviously, it was a little difficult like anything you do starting from scratch. But I put a lot of work into it."

New Rockies manager Walt Weiss said that he is surprised by the power shown by Fowler, who is about 6-foot-4 and entered the Majors no heavier than 180 pounds and now weighs around 220. But he knows as long as Fowler's athletic ability isn't stifled it isn't an issue. Over his career, there have been suggestions he eliminate the upper-cut from his swing and concentrate on hitting the ball on the ground. But when Fowler takes his full swing, he not only has more power, but he's better able to hit doubles and triples to the gaps.

"There's a tendency in this game to get real mechanical, whether it's your footwork defensively or your swing," Weiss said. "In the end, you've got to go out there and be an athlete. These guys are great athletes. We don't ever want to put handcuffs on these guys."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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