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Rockies manager Bud Black said he expects left fielder Connor Joe back sometime this season.
“But I’m not a doctor,” Black quipped before Tuesday’s game against San Francisco.
Joe, whose steady hand atop the Rockies’ lineup has buoyed their second half, was placed on the injured list Saturday with a right hamstring strain. Black said he received a PRP injection to help the recovery process.
If Black’s early premonition is incorrect, or if Joe is limited when he does come back, the 29-year-old has already made a significant impression on the Rockies’ coaching staff.
“I think the coaches and I both feel very strongly about what we saw and the performance,” Black said of Joe, who’s slashed .285/.379/.469 this season with eight home runs in 63 games. “… What we saw in spring training, what we saw throughout this year, what he did in the minor leagues, leads us to believe that that can continue now.”
In July, Joe hit .357 with an on-base percentage of .400. In August, his most productive month of the season, he hit .284 with an on-base percentage of .383. He also hit six homers and drove in 20 RBIs in 88 at-bats.
“You don’t know (if it’s sustainable) until you keep playing, but he’s got a good foundation of how he hits and he does a really consistent job from at-bat to at-bat, game-to-game, and he doesn’t waver from that,” Black added. “Are there going to be some peaks and valleys? Sure, we saw that. We saw a little bit of the valley, but he’s come back and really done a really nice job offensively. And he’s learning left field … He’s put himself clearly on the radar.”
His steady approach – .277 against righties, .306 against lefties – even across just 63 games this season, bodes well for his chances of being a fixture moving forward. In the leadoff spot this season, Joe has authored a .274 average with an on-base percentage just shy of .400.
Black was cautious, reminding that as teams become more familiar with the righty, their strategies may adjust. But he also advised there were several aspects to Joe’s approach that shouldn’t waver.
“The thing that he’s done in the past, he’s taken his walks, his chase rates, his ability to recognize the strike zone, strike zone discipline, has been pretty solid,” Black said. “That shouldn’t go away. Those things don’t go away. In the minor leagues they were there. Walk totals, the on-base percentage, the chase-rates that have been measured over the last few years, even in the minor leagues. He’s put himself in a position to really be thought of as a guy that can make a major league roster.”