Tough Break Keeps Swanner From Rockies Instructs





DENVER—Rookie-level Casper catcher Will Swanner was anticipating a second trip to the Rockies instructional league, and ample one-on-one instruction with catching instructors Marv Foley and Jerry Weinstein. A thumb injury kept that from happening.

"Last year I got so much better from working with Marv and Jerry Weinstein," Swanner said. "I consider I got so much growth in those four weeks that I was with them that it just (stinks) that I had to miss out on that."

Swanner, 20, injured his left thumb Aug. 13 in a tag play at the plate. He returned Sept. 1 for three uncomfortable games but was unable to play in the final five games of the season at Rookie-level Casper, and he finally had surgery on a torn ulnar collateral ligament in the thumb.

He returned to Casper this season, after playing 18 games there in 2010. In 43 games this year, he hit .264/.357/.553 with 10 homers and 24 RBIs. He also had 60 strikeouts in 159 at-bats but did walk 20 times after 76 at-bats with no walks in 2010.

Swanner has plus raw power and a strong arm but needs to shorten his arm action and work on his blocking.

To be sure, his contact rate needs improvement, but Swanner was pleased that he was able to implement a two-strike approach that was essentially nonexistent in 2010 when he hit .303/.321/.632 with seven homers, 13 RBIs and 33 strikeouts.

"Pretty much last year with two strikes, it was either a strikeout or I was hitting a home run," Swanner said. "I wasn't really putting together good at-bats. I felt this year I was able to work the count in my favor.

"My average probably doesn't show how well I thought I did, but this year was a lot more contact, a lot more singles and doubles instead of just like either all or nothing."

ROCKY ROADS

• Marcel Lachemann, who said he had different ideas on the development of pitchers, resigned after 12 seasons in the organization, the past 10 as a special assistant to general manager Dan O'Dowd and two before that as the Rockies pitching coach.

• Weinstein, 68, who managed high Class A Modesto for five seasons, will join the major league staff as a catching instructor, with Foley choosing to return to his roving catching coordinator position. Asheville hitting coach Lenn Sakata will move up to manage Modesto.