SI Vault
Stephen Cannella
June 03, 2002
Reality CheckA shakeup aims to give the lumbering A's a jump start
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June 03, 2002


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With his power binge Green also yanked himself out of one of the worst slumps of his career. All season he had been having trouble turning on pitches inside. Accordingly, entering the Dodgers' May 21 game against the Brewers, Green was hitting .231 with three dingers. That day he slammed two homers in the Dodgers' 8-6 loss to the Brewers at Miller Park. Two days later at the same venue, Green had one of the greatest offensive games in history: 6 for 6, four home runs, six runs, seven RBIs and a major-league-record 19 total bases. "There's no one in the game that needed it more than I did," he said. "I was getting pretty down."

Green's reversal of fortune continued over the weekend. Through Sunday he was 16 for 27 in his last six games and had raised his average more than 50 points, to .284.

Colorado Comeback
Hurdle Has Rockies Hopping

Often when a new manager takes over a failing club during the season, the result is a few days of euphoria followed by a rapid return to the doldrums. A change at the Rockies' helm on April 26, however, still had them rejuvenated on Memorial Day. After sweeping the Giants in a three-game series at Coors Field, Colorado was 20-8 under rookie skipper Clint Hurdle, who replaced the fired Buddy Bell after the club's 6-16 start. The Rockies' 26-24 record marked the first time they were two games over .500 in almost a year. "[ Hurdle] has done a very good job as a cheerleader, motivator and positive force," third baseman Todd Zeile told the Rocky Mountain News.

The clubhouse atmosphere Hurdle has created starkly contrasts with that under Bell, for whom the Rockies often looked uptight and unenthused. Hurdle built a close relationship with his players in five-plus years as the team's hitting coach, and the players have responded to his rah-rah approach. "He has come in and made guys loosen up," right-fielder Larry Walker declared to The Denver Post.

Colorado has also benefited from a startlingly effective pitching staff. Through Sunday its team ERA (4.13) was the National League's ninth best, not its worst, as it usually is. The bullpen had the league's sixth-best relief ERA (3.12). Do you credit the humidor at Coors Field in which the Rockies store their baseballs to keep them from drying out, perhaps making them easier to grip and limiting the distance they fly? The Rockies (7-14 on the road) will find out: On Monday they began a stretch in which they'll play 13 of 16 games away from Coors.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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