SAN DIEGO — Nolan Arenado is never satisfied with the way he plays baseball. That’s just how he’s built.
So it pains him when he’s not playing well. The pain doubles when the Rockies are struggling. So the all-star third baseman entered Saturday night’s game against the San Diego Padres intent on changing things.
“I’m not sure what’s going on, but I haven’t been hitting,” he said. “As a team, we are not really getting on base like we need to, so it’s been tough. But we have a whole month left and hopefully we can turn it around.”
Arenado entered the game in an 0-for-17 slump on the current West Coast road trip. Worse, DJ LeMahieu, Ian Desmond and Arenado have all hit the skids at the same time, the trio combining for an 0-for-46 skid entering Saturday. The Rockies had lost five of their last seven games but entered the night only 1 ½ games behind Arizona in the National League West.
Exacerbating Arenado’s slump is a sore right shoulder that has bothered him since early August. The shoulder is still not pain free, but he’s learned to deal with it.
“It’s good enough to play and it’s good enough to throw,” he said. “But it’s definitely not 100 percent.”
Arenado said the shoulder has not factored into his batting slump.
“I mean, the shoulder’s sore, but it doesn’t affect the hitting,” he said.
The injury forced Arenado out of a game against the Dodgers on Aug. 10 and limited him to pinch-hit and designated-hitter duties until he returned to play third base on Aug. 16 at Atlanta.
As for the slump, Arenado admitted he’s a little perplexed by it, even though he’s batting .300 with 31 home runs, 91 RBIs, a .558 slugging percentage and a .383 on-base percentage.
“I don’t know for sure what it is,” he said. “Every year is different. I know that last year was a pretty special year and I didn’t feel like I slumped very much. This year, I’ve gone through my streaks, but I think I’ve still played well. So maybe this is just a test for me.
“I believe I haven’t quite felt like me for a good portion of the whole second half, so hopefully this last month of the season I get hot and it’s a good month for me and the team.”
September call-ups: The Rockies expanded their roster Saturday with five September call-ups. Recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque were right-hander Yency Almonte, left-hander Harrison Musgrave, catcher Tom Murphy, utility infielder Pat Valaika and outfielder Noel Cuevas. Also, catcher Drew Butera, acquired from Kansas City in a trade on Friday, joined the roster.
Manager Bud Black said the Rockies will recall a few more players when the Triple-A season ends Monday. The likely candidates are right-handed starter Jeff Hoffman, infielder Garrett Hampson and outfielder Raimel Tapia.
Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland (12-7, 2.90 ERA) at Padres RHP Jacob Nix (2-2, 4.05), 2:10 p.m. Sunday; ATTRM, 850 AM
Freeland is not going to win the National League Cy Young Award, but he’s having one of the best seasons in Rockies history. The Denver native is coming off an August in which he went 3-1 with a 2.15 ERA, with 42 strikeouts vs. only 15 walks. Freeland’s pinpoint command and his ability to control the strike zone have been key. The left-hander’s actually pitched better at Coors Field (7-2, 2.27 ERA) than on the road (5-5, 3.44). No matter the venue, he’s gotten stronger as the season’s gone on, going 6-1 with a 2.16 ERA over his past 13 starts, with the Rockies posting an 11-2 record over that span. Nix, part of San Diego’s young rotation, will make his fifth career start, his second against Colorado. He’s coming off a tremendous outing vs. Seattle, in which he threw 8 ⅓ innings of one-run ball, allowing no walks and needing only 79 pitches. Nix throws a four-seam fastball, a curve and a changeup, while tossing in a rare slider.
Monday: Giants LHP Madison Bumgarner (5-5, 2.68) at Rockies LHP Tyler Anderson (6-7, 4.79), 1:10 p.m., ATTRM
Tuesday: Giants RHP Dereck Rodriguez (6-2, 2.47) at Rockies German Marquez (11-9, 4.11), 6:40 p.m., ATTRM
Wednesday: Giants LHP Andrew Suarez (6-9, 4.19) at Rockies Antonio Senzatela (4-5, 4.88), 6:40 p.m., ATTRM
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