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Hurdle still in Rockies' corner

Hurdle still in Rockies' corner

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DENVER -- Former Rockies manager Clint Hurdle recalled recent history in predicting a World Series title for the club that replaced him May 29.

"2003, [Jeff] Torborg fired, [Jack] McKeon takes over with the Marlins, 10 games under .500 when it happened," Hurdle said during an appearance on MLB Network on Tuesday afternoon. "Same thing this year in Colorado.

"2003 World Series champions? The Florida Marlins. Heard it here first."

The Rockies were 18-28 when Jim Tracy was promoted from bench coach to replace Hurdle. But in a dramatic turnaround, the Rockies had won 17 of 18 going into Tuesday night's game against the Angels.

With the Rockies turning heads around baseball, Hurdle is turning barbs onto himself.

"Not since Willis Reed took the court at the Garden has one man meant so much -- one man leaving," Hurdle said.

Hurdle was making reference to Reed taking the court with a hamstring injury against the Lakers in Game of the 1970 NBA Finals. Reed didn't do much in that game, but the inspiration of him being there became legend.

Hurdle is not part of the Rockies' current process. But in analyzing an aspect of Monday night's 11-1 victory over the Angels, Hurdle offered proof that a back-to-basics Spring Training helped lead to success.

The Angels tied a club record with six wild pitches. Several of those didn't squirt far from catcher Mike Napoli, but Hurdle noted that the Rockies had practiced for such opportunities.

"We'd have Mark Strittmatter, our bullpen coach/catcher, get down behind the plate," Hurdle said. "Small groups of guys at second, small groups of guys at third and just work.

"It's very difficult for a catcher to kick out, glove the ball, bring it up and throw it accurately to third base."

Hurdle spread credit.

"[First-base coach] Glenallen Hill and Jim Tracy were all over this drill in Spring Training," Hurdle said. "It's making a difference for the Rockies right now."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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