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Rox hope spring start of things to come for Stubbs

Rox hope spring start of things to come for Stubbs play video for Rox hope spring start of things to come for Stubbs

MIAMI -- Spring Training statistics don't say much in and of themselves. But it's possible they speak volumes about Rockies center fielder Drew Stubbs.

The toolsy Stubbs, acquired from the Indians last winter, has hit for power (22 homers in 2010) and provided speed (70 steals in 2009 and 2010), but has struggled to get on base (.310) and has high strikeouts (729 in 632 games).

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During Cactus League play, the strikeouts remained high, 14 in 48 at-bats, but he also batted .354 and reached base at a .415 clip. The Rockies hope it's a sign of a turnaround for Stubbs, 29, who hit .233 in 146 games last season, after spending the previous three seasons with the Reds.

"When you come back after spending three or four months off, it takes a little time to get your timing back, but as spring progressed, I was able to do that and come out of there feeling good," said Stubbs, who made his first Rockies start Tuesday night against the Marlins.

The at-bats are available in the leadoff spot, although Stubbs has not been the on-base type that functions well in that top spot during his career. But after spending the last couple of years experimenting with a leg kick and a toe tap, Stubbs has forgotten the mechanics and just hit with his athletic ability. By the end of spring, Stubbs was lining pitches because he was loading his legs into the swing properly.

The strikeouts are a concern he is trying to correct, since it means he would need good contact and good luck whenever he makes contact to have a decent OBP. But because he has power potential, he believes it would be counterproductive to be a slap hitter.

"At the end of the day, getting on base is all that matters," Stubbs said. "You try to limit strikeouts as much as you can, but you don't want to place so much emphasis on it that it takes away from the rest of your game. As long as you are getting on base and you are getting a productive at-bat, things take care of themselves."

Stubbs has well-celebrated issues with right-handed pitching in recent years. For example, he hit .216 with a .275 OBP against righties in 2013. But this spring, he hit .276 with a .344 OBP against righties, and manager Walt Weiss started him against Marlins hard-throwing righty Nathan Eovaldi on Tuesday.

In the opener, Weiss started left-handed-hitting Charlie Blackmon (0-for-4). There will be starts for left-handed-hitting Corey Dickerson and right-swinging Brandon Barnes. In the case of Tuedsay, Weiss said righties do decently against Eovaldi.

"That played into it, but it's gong to be a fluid situation early on, and we'll see who takes it [center field] and runs with it," Weiss said. "But [Stubbs] has that elite skill on the defensive side of the ball, and that certainly helped.

"I saw better at-bats [as the spring progressed]. He had some things he was working on specifically this spring -- the small game and doing those things. He was in a good place by the time we broke camp."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. 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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