Rockies’ Ryan McMahon searching for a way out of deep slump

This is not the kind of season that Ryan McMahon envisioned when he signed a six-year, $70 million contract during spring training. But the Rockies’  third baseman said the pressure of living up to the contract is not what’s fueling his funk.

“The only time I’ve thought about that is when somebody brings it up,” McMahon said Saturday before the Rockies hosted San Diego at Coors Field. “That’s not me, that’s not who I am. My family and I are taken care of for life, but that’s not what this is about.

“I just want to go out and be a better baseball player for myself and my teammates. That’s what will make it easier to sleep at night.”

McMahon entered Saturday’s game hitting 1-for-12 with five strikeouts on the current homestand. Over his last 27 games, he slashed .161/.262/.226. He had not hit a home run since May 14 vs. Kansas City.

“It’s been a tough 100 at-bats, or so,” manager Bud Black said, adding that he believes that McMahon’s extra effort put him deeper into a rut.

“It starts with bad swing choices and bad swing decisions,” Black said. “When you make bad choices, you start getting into that rut. Then human nature tells you that you’ve got to swing your way out of it and a lot of times that works against you.

“I think that’s where ‘Mac’ was. He tried to swing himself out of it. With that, you start swinging at bad pitches. And then what happens, on the other side, is that they notice that you are swinging at bad pitches, so they start throwing bad pitches.”

McMahon said he’s searching for a way to stop that negative chasing.

“I’m working on a lot of stuff,” he said, shortly after leaving the indoor batting cage. “I’m focusing on the right stuff. But this is not fun. It (stinks). But you know me, I hold myself to pretty high standards and I’m going to do what’s best for the team. I’m just going to keep trying to come out of it.”

McMahon said he’s trying to find the happy medium between working and letting go. What’s the key?

“It’s usually not caring and just relaxing and going out and playing the game,” he said. “It’s hard to do, but at the end of the day this isn’t a try-hard league, this is a get-(stuff)-done league.”

Working overtime. Prior to Saturday night’s game, struggling catcher Elias Diaz was making extra throws to the bases. Also, Rockies pitchers took PFP (pitcher’s fielding practice) in an attempt to clean up their games.

“I’m a firm believer in practice,” Black said. “Diaz has to practice his throwing, just to solidify that he does have a great arm and that he can throw accurately.”

It’s been a difficult season for the catcher. Last season, Diaz overcame a bad start and finished with a .246 batting average and 18 home runs. His 42.1% caught-stealing rate ranked first in the National League and second overall to Royals star Salvador Perez (43.9%).

Daiz was rewarded with a three-year, $14.5 million contract.

But he entered Saturday with a 22% caught-stealing rate, and he’s committed seven errors after making just four errors in all of 2021. Plus, he’s hitting .205 with a .546 OPS and only two homers.

As for the pitchers getting extra practice, Black said: “You saw (Lucas) Gilbreath throwing a couple of pick-off throws to first. He airmailed one the other day. Not good. So we get them on the mound and get them a little bit of confidence. We did it because we haven’t been great in a lot of areas defensively.”

Footnotes. Kris Bryant, returning from a strained lower back, will likely play his first rehab game with Triple-A Albuquerque on Tuesday. If all goes well, he will rejoin the Rockies for next weekend’s series at Minnesota. Bryant, who signed a seven-year, $182 million deal to come to Colorado, has played in only 17 games. … The plan is for left-hander reliever Ty Blach (strained left wrist) to pitch two innings for Albuquerque on Tuesday and then three innings next Saturday. … Black reiterated that right-hander Ryan Feltner will remain in the bullpen, for now, rather than moving into the starting rotation.

On Deck
Padres LHP Blake Snell (0-3, 5.04) at Rockies RHP Antonio Senzatela (2-3, 4.79)
1:10 p.m. Sunday, Coors Field
Radio: KOA 850 AM/94.1 FM

Senzatela is coming off a quality start vs. Cleveland on Tuesday at Coors Field when he was charged with three earned runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out four in a 4-3 extra-inning loss. He did not factor into the decision. The right-hander, who relies on groundball outs, is averaging just 4.6 strikeouts per nine innings this season, last in the majors among starters and down significantly from his career average of 6.0 strikeouts per nine. Senzatela has made 17 career appearances against the Padres (11 starts), going 7-3 with a 3.30 ERA. He is 5-1 with a 3.06 ERA in 10 games (seven starts) against San Diego at Coors Field.

Snell is struggling to be the pitcher the Padres thought he would be, as his 5.04 ERA illustrates. But he pitched well last Sunday in his start against the Rockies at Petco Park, notching seven strikeouts while walking just two in a 4-2 loss. In the start before that, Snell allowed season highs in hits (seven) and earned runs (four) in an 11-5 loss to the Mets. That outing included a 43-pitch first inning. Snell is 2-0 with a 3.34 ERA in six starts vs. the Rockies. He’s 1-0 with a 6.08 ERA in three starts at Coors Field.

Trending: Friday night, left-hander Kyle Freeland became the first Rockies starter to not record a strikeout through seven or more innings since Jorge De La Rosa vs. Arizona on June
3, 2014.

At issue: Second baseman Brendan Rodgers entered Saturday’s game hitting 1-for-15, with three strikeouts and four walks, and had grounded into three double plays during the first four games of the current homestand.

Pitching probables
Monday: Off
Tuesday: Rockies LHP Austin Gomber (3-7, 6.43) at Marlins LHP Daniel Castano (0-1, 0.0), 4:40 p.m., ATTRM
Wednesday: Rockies RHP Chad Kuhl (4-4, 3.69) at Marlins RHP Pablo Lopez (4-3, 2.85), 4:40 p.m., ATTRM

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