Cuddyer more at ease during Year 2 in NL

Cuddyer more at ease during Year 2 in NL

PHOENIX -- After finishing last year injured and with a .260 final batting average, the Rockies' Michael Cuddyer is feeling more comfortable in 2013, and it shows.

Cuddyer, who signed a three-year, $31.5 million deal with the Rockies last year after spending his entire career with the Twins, entered Friday night's game against the D-backs hitting .329 with five home runs, 15 RBIs and a .618 slugging percentage. From the fifth spot in the order, Cuddyer doesn't give the pitcher a chance to relax after facing No. 3 hitter Carlos Gonzalez and cleanup man Troy Tulowitzki.

Last season, Cuddyer hit 16 home runs and had 48 extra-base hits, and his average might have been higher had an oblique injury not ended his season in early September. All that happened while he was adjusting to a new league.

Cuddyer, 34, said he is feeling the benefits of the 2012 experience.

"It helps, especially when you play these games in the division," Cuddyer said. "Even though I was hurt the last couple of months, I still got to see the guys pitch and face a lot of the guys. This year, the preparation time is not as great, as far as watching video or taking an at-bat or two to figure things out. I already know some things going into the first at-bat of the first game."

Cuddyer said he studies catchers' tendencies almost as much as those of pitchers, and he has come away impressed with what he's seen in the National League West.

"The Diamondbacks' catcher, Miguel Montero, has really got a good feel for the game," Cuddyer said. "Plus he has pitchers that can hit the spots. Buster Posey of the Giants is the same way. The Dodgers' A.J. Ellis is a good one that doesn't get talked about. This division has a lot of quality game callers."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for 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.