Colorado Rockies Trade Bats
and Balls for Bows and
Arrows Colorado Rockies Trade Bats and Balls for Bows and Arrows

Emotions run high for baseball players during spring training as they compete for spots on the regular season’s 25-man roster. That stress calls for creative ways to break the tension and build clubhouse camaraderie.

Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black rose to the occasion by organizing an archery tournament earlier this week in training camp. Black, the Rockies’ first-year manager, got the idea after learning his bullpen coach, Darren Holmes, is an avid archer and outdoorsman. When Black also learned several other members of the organization enjoy hunting and archery, he decided the team needed a tournament.

Black told ESPN the tournament lasted 30 to 40 minutes in the morning before practice, and helped the players loosen up and talk about competition. The tournament is one of several team-building activities Black organized after speaking with his coaching staff.

“In our morning meetings, we talk about baseball, obviously,” Black told ESPN. “But with that we had a little bit of trash talking about who can do this, and who’s better than who. There was a teammate concept to this, too.”

 

Holmes, second baseman DJ LeMahieu, catcher Tom Murphy and pitcher Kyle Freeland competed against each other in the head-to-head competition. Their matchups were filled with friendly trash-talk and other strategies intended to disrupt their concentration and shooting rhythm. In fact, it sounded similar to what they hear in the batting box from fans of opposing teams.

“Bud’s done a great job of having little things like that throughout camp that kind of transform the attitude around here and keep things light,” said Murphy, an avid hunter from upstate New York.

According to the Rockies’ official Twitter account, Freeland made an epic comeback in the tournament’s final round to defeat Holmes, shooting the target from 75 yards away.

Freeland said he received his first bow during last year’s offseason, and got in some target practice after a few workouts to polish his skills.

Holmes said Black does his homework to learn about the players he coaches. A hallway outside the team’s clubhouse displays a map of North America and the Caribbean. Players, coaches and staff members use thumbtacks to pinpoint where they’re from and what high school they attended.

The map and archery tournament show that Black goes the extra mile for his players.

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