Spilborghs and the leadoff options
Center fielder Ryan Spilborghs has had a strong last two Cactus League games with the bat. Both were against the Padres. He had a nice hit-and-run single and another hit Friday, and on Sunday had two doubles and a single in three at-bats on Sunday. Those were good developments for Spilborghs, who has had to deal wih the death of his mother during Spring Training.
“He’s still got a lot of at-bats to work on,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “It’s just as important to get out three and track some balls in the outfield. [Sunday] was a good day for him. He caught the barrel with some balls and hit balls really hard.”
Spilborghs, who is in line to be the leadoff hitter, is batting .313 with a .353 on-base percentage.
The leadoff position is an area of focus for the Rockies.
They should be in good shape with Spilborghs, who had a .363 on-base percentage last season. However, he will not start 162 games. The most experienced option is non-roster outfielder Scott Podsednik. The Rockies are giving him and others some looks atop the lineup.
Keeping in mind that all hitters were operating under strict orders to extend at-bats at the very start of games, here is how Rockies starting leadoff men have performed this spring:
— Spilborghs: two starts, 0-for-6
— Podsednik: five starts, 4-for-17, 1 RBI, four runs, two steals
— Eric Young Jr.: two starts, 1-for-1, one steal
— Carlos Gonzalez, one start, 0-for-3, two runs, one walk
— Dexter Fowler, one start, 0-for-4
That makes the leadoff men 5-for-38 with six runs, two RBIs.
You figure that Young and Fowler are not expeced to be factors at the Major League level to start the season. The ability to hit at the top of the order enhances Podsednik’s chances to make the team as a non-roster guy for the second year in a row.
Gonzalez, one of three-players obtained from the Athletics for outfielder Matt Holliday, offers some intrigue. He has tremendous tools, but strikeouts were a problem during his callup with the Athletics last season. Would it be worthwhile to send him to Triple-A Colorado Springs at the beginning of the season to work on being a leadoff man?
The other possibility is second baseman Clint Barmes, who has done it before in the Majors and done it with success in the Minors. But he’d have to improve his on-base rate. Last season, Barmes batted .290 but had just a .301 on-base percentage. Hurdle and the staff have Barmes working on developing a more discerning eye at the plate.
Hurdle said Sunday that he’ll hone in on his leadoff strategy during the final three weeks of camp.