BOSTON -- From May 27 through June 5, DJ LeMahieu had no feel at the plate.
Mired in a 4-for-31 slump, he thought it would never end.
"It was one of those for sure," he said. "Anytime you're in a slump like that, it feels like it's going to last forever."
Then he smacked a single, stole a base and hit a double in his next game against the Padres. The stolen base is always his way of feeling productive.
"I'm a singles hitter," he said. "So if I can turn one base into two, that's great. That's what I need to do. It's how can I contribute."
Suddenly, LeMahieu turned a corner. Since June 6, the Rockies second baseman is hitting .365 (19-for-52) with four doubles, one homer and five stolen bases.
He's become a steady producer out of the No. 2 spot in the Rockies order and is contributing to the team's Major League-best stolen-base percentage of 85 percent. Entering Tuesday's game Colorado has stolen 58 bases and been caught just 10 times.
"They tell you here to be aggressive," LeMahieu said. "The organization, through Triple-A, is aggressive on the bases. I love it. That's what I like to do, so it works out really well for me."
In 81 games with the Rockies last season, LeMahieu was 1-for-3 in stolen base attempts. He's 9-for-9 with the Rockies this year after going 8-for-10 with Triple-A Colorado Springs.
Especially against the Red Sox, LeMahieu's speed should continue to be an asset.
With David Ross on the 60-day disabled list with a concussion, the Red Sox have put much of the catching burden on Jarred Saltalamacchia, who has thrown out just 19 percent of stolen-base attempts this season entering Tuesday's game, fourth-worst among qualified catchers.
LaMahieu was acquired from the Cubs with Tyler Colvin in the trade that sent Ian Stewart and Casey Weathers to Chicago before the 2012 season. Stewart, who spent five years with the Rockies, was signed to a one-year deal worth $2 million to play with the Cubs this season, but hit just .168 in Triple-A and was released on Tuesday.
Cuddyer extends hitting streak to 22 games
BOSTON -- Michael Cuddyer extended his Major League-best hitting streak to 22 games as the Rockies played the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.
Cuddyer took a full hack that barely made contact with a pitch from Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster in the fourth inning. The ball slowly rolled down the third-base line. Even Jose Iglesias, considered one of the better defensive players in the game, couldn't get to this one.
Cuddyer's swinging bunt tied him with Vinny Castilla for the second-longest hitting streak in Rockies history. The longest was 23 games, executed by current Rockies hitting coach Dante Bichette in 1995.
Cuddyer has also reached base safely in 41 straight games, longest in the Majors this season and the longest in Rockies history for a single season.
Betancourt to resume closing duties upon return
BOSTON -- Rex Brothers filled in admirably for Rafael Betancourt -- Brothers hasn't allowed a run since April 6 -- but Betancourt will return to his normal role as closer when he's activated from the 15-day disabled list, which will likely be on Friday.
Betancourt, who hasn't played since May 31 because of a right groin strain, threw at Fenway Park before Tuesday's game as he nears a return to his ninth-inning duties with the Rockies.
"Everything went well today and we'll see how he feels tomorrow, make sure there are no issues tomorrow and we'll go from there," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.
Brothers was 3-for-3 in save chances in Betancourt's absence. The 25-year-old lefty has allowed just three total hits in nine June appearances and hasn't allowed a run in 31 straight appearances spanning 29 innings. He's four innings shy of Ubaldo Jimenez's club record of 33 consecutive scoreless innings. Brothers' 0.28 ERA is the best in the Majors.
But the return of Betancourt will allow Weiss to use Brothers in key situations in the seventh or eighth inning, giving some more depth to a bullpen that ranks 14th in the Majors with a 3.55 ERA.
"He'll come back to close," Weiss said of Betancourt, who has a 3.20 ERA and is 11-for-12 in save chances this season. "It gives us a little more flexibility with Rex. Preferably the eighth inning, but maybe a situation where we go to him in the seventh."
Dickerson gets first start at designated hitter
BOSTON -- One of those unique power hitters who chooses to shorten his swing with two strikes rather than continue to swing for the fences, 24-year-old rookie Corey Dickerson earned the start at designated hitter in the Rockies' game against the Red Sox on Tuesday night.
Dickerson has played designated hitter just twice throughout his Minor League career, but he's been locked in this year largely, he says, because he's fully healthy. He had been dealing with tendinitis behind his left knee, which caused agony whenever he ran.
"He's just a really good hitter," manager Walt Weiss said. "It's a pretty simple approach at the plate. It's a leg kick, so he's pretty dynamic, too. But the swing is short and compact and there's a lot of bat speed. He just has a really good feel for the barrel and gets the barrel to the ball a lot."
And after picking up a pair of doubles in four at-bats in his first Major League game on Friday, Dickerson wasn't quite as nervous in the Rockies' clubhouse Tuesday.
"A lot more relieved after that first hit," he said. "I'm a little more confident, but still a little bit nervous with the atmosphere."
Dickerson, who bats left-handed, might have an ideal swing for Fenway Park. With a short right-field porch that often turns doubles into homers, paired with the Green Monster to bounce balls off in left field, Dickerson has a lot of room to work with.
In the Minors, he collected a 1.075 OPS, which would be third in the Majors right now behind only Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis. But his .389 batting average and low strikeout numbers are what keep him happy.
"I don't like to strikeout," Dickerson said. "With two strikes I just try to put the ball in play, make the defense get me out. I'd rather do that. I'm just trying to help this team. The power will come.
"I'm just trying to take good swings because I want to be an overall hitter. I want to hit for a good average, too. I don't want to be just a power hitter."
In 303 plate appearances with Triple-A Colorado Springs, Dickerson struck out just 43 times while hitting 19 doubles, 13 triples and nine homers. Minus the triples, Dickerson's numbers are eerily similar to those that Troy Tulowitzki has posted at the Major League level this season.
"He makes some adjustments with two strikes," Weiss said of the rookie. "But at the same time it's not like he's up there sacrificing bat speed with two strikes. He still gets his A-swing off. For me, that's always been a good sign for hitters. They may make some mental adjustments with two strikes, but the fact that he still keeps his bat speed with two strikes is impressive."