Early-spring lineup thoughts
Manager Clint Hurdle hasn’t revealed his lineup yet, but he gave some thoughts.
– The game-changer, Matt Holliday, is gone, having been traded to the Athletics, but Hurdle believes he has “the personnel to have a very challenging lineup, 1-through-8, maybe as challenging as we’ve had on some time.” He measures this is “the quality of at-bats, the number of pitches seen, the ability to hit a ball in the gap and score a couple runs.”
– On Todd Helton: “The only thing we’ve talked about over the winter is him finding a way, with good health, to be the toughest out in the National League.” Hurdle said if that happens, his customary No. 3 spot could be the place for him. But he recalled the 2007 lineup functioning nicely with him hitting cleanup.
– Can left-handed hitting Brad Hawpe bat cleanup? Hurdle says it’s worth exploring, because Hawpe proved last year he could hit lefties consistently. Before then, the question was whether Hawpe was a platoon palyer. Regardless where Hawpe hits in the order, Hurdle sad he has earned the lineup to stay in the lineup against tough lefties.
– Center fielder Ryan Spilborghs’ .374 on-base percentage means he’ll have first shot at the leadoff role. The power Spilborghs has shown in part-time duty over the last two years leads Hurdle to believe Spilborghs can be a different type of leadoff hitter. “Those of us who’ve got a little age on us can remember when Brian Downing led off with the Angels,” Hurdle said. “Of course, he was a DH, but he went to the top of the order. Eerybody said, ‘What?’ But it turned out to be a very nice play, and a very nice dynamic they had.”
The leadoff man as an RBI guy? Don’t scoff. “You look at how many times last year we had our leadoff hitter up wiht a man in scoring position, and we really didn’t fare in a real good way.”
– Catcher Chris Iannetta produced runs and reached base at rates that are good for those who bat in the top or middle of the lineup. Hurdle said Iannetta could hit in the foruth or fifth spots against left-handed pitching. In 80 at-bats against lefties, Iannetta hit .275 with six home runs and 19 RBIs last season.
– An interesting question will be where shortstop Troy Tulowitzki will hit. In 2007, Tulowitzki hit .297 in the second spot and .294 in the seven hole. In 2008, Tulowitzki fared much better at No. 7 (.306) than No. 2 (.222).
Go forth and exercise: In recent season, many of the Rockies stayed in Denver and worked out at Coors Field because they clicked with strength and conditioning coach Brad Andress. But the club replaced him after last season ended, and hadn’t promoted Brian Jordan from within, so many players ended up training in their hometowns. General manager Dan O’Dowd said, “I think training has evolved in a lot of different directions. Some of the agencies and training institutes are on the cutting edge. In some cases it’s great, in orhter cases it may be not so. But where our guys went really helped them.”
On the way: Catcher Yorvit Torrealba was hoping to arrive in Tucson on Monday night, and right-hander Jason Grilli was hoping to arrive Tuesday and be available for Wednesday’s workout. Both were mourning deaths in their families.