Hilliard aims to be dual threat in Rockies’ OF

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Outfielder Sam Hilliard is a large, fast man trying to blast his way into the Rockies’ lineup regularly.

Hilliard, who turned 27 on Sunday, lit it up during his 27-game debut in 2019 with seven homers in 87 plate appearances. During last year’s weird season, he hit six homers in 114 plate appearances, but high strikeouts (42) and a low batting average (.210) led to gaps in sporadic playing time.

“I could certainly provide this team with a spark with the power bat, and also I pride myself a lot in being an athlete and being able to run well — one of those guys kind of like Trevor [Story, the Rockies’ three-time All-Star shortstop,] that can do it all,” Hilliard said. “Guys like that can spark lineups, create rallies and get things going.

“If I can do what I’m capable of doing, there’s no doubt in my mind I can really help this team.”

The Rockies have ways to feed the lefty-swinging Hilliard opportunities, even if he isn’t a daily starter. The right-handed-hitting Hampson could move to the infield, which means more opportunity for Hilliard to stay in the game when entering as a pinch-hitter. Also, he could spell an outfielder at any spot.

Hilliard’s at-bats could be dependent on how much he learned last season.

A strong Summer Camp earned Hilliard an Opening Day start in left field at Texas, with Tapia sliding to designated…

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