After posting a .900 OPS with Colorado Springs last season, there didn't appear to be much room for Matt McBride to improve at the plate.
Fifteen games into his 2013 season, he's found a way.
McBride homered twice and drove in five runs Tuesday night, raising his batting average to .362 and powering the Sky Sox to a 9-5 victory over visiting Omaha.
The 27-year-old slugger has six home runs this year -- all in his past eight games -- with 19 RBIs during that stretch. He hit .344 with 10 homers and 87 RBIs in 108 Triple-A games last season before struggling in a 31-game stint with the Rockies.
After missing the beginning of the season with a staph infection in his foot, McBride returned to Colorado Springs determined to hit his way back onto the Major League roster. He doesn't have an explanation for the sudden power surge -- he combined for 25 homers over the previous two years -- but the big flies are a welcome addition to his resume.
"Honestly, I'm just trying to get quality at-bats," he said. "I'm just hitting the ball pretty well right now. I feel like I'm just trying to stay consistent from last year with what I was doing and just keep that going."
Last year was a breakout season for McBride, a 2006 second-round Draft pick of the Indians who was traded to Colorado in the Ubaldo Jimenez deal. The Lehigh University product showed he has a Major League bat, though as a corner outfielder and first baseman, the stick was unlikely to be anything more than average at Coors Field.
The Rockies, eager to further McBride's career, asked him this spring if he'd be interested in a return to catching. He was drafted as a backstop but moved off the position after a couple of Minor League seasons.
He caught eight games for the Sky Sox in 2012 but didn't return to the position full-time until this spring. The Rockies found themselves with logjams in the outfield and at first base and, recalling the positive reports Colorado Springs manager Stu Cole sent on McBride's catching in a small sample last year, opted to give him another try behind the plate.
"When they told me in Spring Training to focus on catching, they asked and I was really excited about it," McBride said. "It's something I haven't done full-time in a while, but I was excited about it. I think it's a good opportunity."
McBride was eager to try something different if it improved his chances of returning to Colorado. Though he struggled in his 31-game stint last season, he had his eyes opened by the experience and feels he'll be better prepared the next time the call from the Rockies comes.
"A lot of guys, they go up there and try a little too hard," he said. "Things don't go well when you start pressing. I learned to just keep the same approach and stay loose and keep your routine and have good, quality at-bats."
On Tuesday, McBride's leadoff homer sparked a three-run third inning that put the Sky Sox in front, 5-4. After Omaha tied it with a run in the fifth, Rockies No. 16 prospect Corey Dickerson hit a go-ahead solo shot, his fourth of the season.
McBride homered again in the bottom of the eighth when Colorado Springs added three insurance runs.
The comeback made a winner of reliever Manny Corpas (2-2), who struck out three in three hitless innings.
Johnny Giavotella, Chad Tracy and Max Ramirez homered for the Storm Chasers.