Now hit­ting with two men on ... them

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Pa­trick Saun­ders Pa­trick Saun­ders: psaun­ders@den­ver­post.com or @psaun­der­sdp

The work­load for a big-league hit­ting coach keeps get­ting heav­ier.

A typ­i­cal day at the ball­park in­cludes study­ing video, scout­ing op­pos­ing pitch­ers, work­ing with bat­ters in the cage and coun­sel­ing those hit­ters try­ing to emerge from a slump. Thus, a grow­ing num­ber of teams are em­ploy­ing two hit­ting coaches. As are the Rock­ies now.

The Rock­ies filled out their coach­ing staff Thurs­day by adding four men from their mi­nor-league ranks, in­clud­ing Duane Espy and Jeff Salazar. Espy will be the Rock­ies’ pri­mary hit­ting coach and Salazar will be his as­sis­tant. The team also said Tony Diaz will be its first-base coach, and it added Ron Gideon as a coach with a va­ri­ety of du­ties, in­clud­ing work­ing with out­field­ers.

The Rock­ies scored 845 runs last sea­son, their most since scor­ing 860 dur­ing their 2007 World Se­ries sea­son. Their .275 team bat­ting av­er­age led the Na­tional League, but their .246 road bat­ting av­er­age ranked only 10th. The Rock­ies be­lieve a more ver­sa­tile and ath­letic lineup will lead to more con­sis­tency. They also think hav­ing a pair of hit­ting coaches will help im­prove pro­duc­tion.

“I think it’s im­per­a­tive, in this day and age, to have two hit­ting coaches,” new man­ager Bud Black said. “The amount of time that play­ers spend in the cage, spend with video, spend on the an­a­lytic side — I think you need two guys. It’s a de­mand­ing po­si­tion.”

The rest of the staff — pitch­ing coach Steve Fos­ter, bullpen coach Dar­ren Holmes and third-base coach Stu Cole, all of whom served un­der Walt Weiss — were re­tained when Black be­came Weiss’ suc­ces­sor.

Here are snapshots of the Rock­ies’ four new coaches:

• Diaz, 39, was the su­per­vi­sor of devel­op­ment with the Rock­ies’ rookie team in Grand Junc­tion from 2013 through 2016 af­ter spend­ing the pre­vi­ous six sea­sons as the man­ager at the rookie level (Casper, 200711; Grand Junc­tion, 2012).

• Espy, 64, will serve as Rock­ies hit­ting coach for the sec­ond time in his ca­reer. He was the hit­ting coach un­der man­ager Clint Hur­dle from 2003 through 2006. He was the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s mi­nor-league hit­ting co­or­di­na­tor the past two sea­sons.

• Gideon, 52, spent the past four sea­sons as a su­per­vi­sor of devel­op­ment af­ter serv­ing the pre­vi­ous five sea­sons as a rov­ing field co­or­di­na­tor (2008-12) and as the man­ager of Double-A Tulsa (2009-10).

• Salazar, 36, has been the hit­ting coach for Double-A Hartford for the past two sea­sons. Salazar was orig­i­nally drafted by the Rock­ies in the eighth round of the 2002 draft out of Ok­la­homa State. He de­buted with the Rock­ies on Sept. 7, 2006. Salazar played in 168 games in parts of four bigleague sea­sons with Colorado (2006), Ari­zona (2007-08) and Pitts­burgh (2009).

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