April 2009

A great day to relax, and debate

Garrett Atkins started and batted cleanup in every game this season, until Wednesday afternoon. Dude had to rest at some point. But let’s debate the timing:

Position A — Atkins didn’t come through in a couple of key situations in Tuesday night’s 4-3 loss. Maybe a day off will do him good.

Position B — The best time to sit a player is after he succeeds. Let him sit with a smile. You don’t force him to dwell on failure. Atkins, after all, has a hit in his last give games and is batting .324 at home. If he doesn’t play today, it’ll be two days to stew over Tuesday’s disappointment.

Here is today’s lineup:

Padres

Jody Gerut                CF

Luis Rodirguez          SS

Brian Giles                RF

Adrian Gonzalez        1B

Chase Headley          LF

Kevin Kouzmanoff      3B

Edgar Gonzalez         2B

Henry Blanco              C

Kevin Correia              P

Rockies

Dexter Fowler           CF

Seth Smith               LF

Ryan Spilborghs       RF

Todd Helton             1B

Ian Stewart              3B

Troy Tulowitzki         SS

Clint Barmes            2B

Chris Iannetta            C

Aaron Cook              P

– OK, got note from Noah Huntsman saying my accidental omission of Brad Hawpe from the lineup the other night angered the gods and, boom, Hawpe took a throw to the neck. Oops. Well, the saving grace is Brad Hawpe isn’t blaming me. Sorry.

– Today was a career first. As I entered the park, three fans stopped me. One was carrying writer Tony DeMarco’s remarkable book, Tales from the Colorado Rockies, and two others wree carrying baseball bats. All wanted me to sign. I truly appreciated it. The value of those items may depreciate on the count of the signature, but still …

– Finally, please take a look at my piece on Rockies rookie phenom Dexter Fowler. It was fun to write.

Snow, snow, gone away

Is Troy Tulowitzki simply a poor April hitter or is something seriously wrong? Can someone other than Jason Marquis consistently pitch the Rockies deep into games? What will the press meal be at Coors Field? These are a sports writer’s thoughts in the middle of the night. So I woke up at 2:25 a.m. and saw snow covering my yard and car. Woke up at a normal human hour and saw more flakes falling.

Yet, this is Denver. Each time I went outside, I needed to bundle a little less. We have baseball tonight. All questions will be answered eventually.

And the meal was Mexican.

Here are the lineups for Rockies vs. Padres:

Padres

Jody Gerut               CF

David Eckstein         2B

Brian Giles              RF

Adrian Gonzalez      1B

Chase Headley        LF

Kevin Kouzmanoff    3B

Nick Hundley            C

Luis Rodriguez        SS

Chris Young             P

Rockies

Dexter Fowler         CF

Ryan Spilborghs     LF

Todd Helton           1B

Garrett Atkins        3B

Ian Stewart            2B

Clint Barmes         SS

Chris Iannetta         C

Jason Hammel       P 

Go deep, save the planet

The Rockies were on the road on Earth Day, but they’re doing their part even if the schedule maker didn’t. Tonight begins the Rockies’ “20 Games of Green.” They’ll be reminding folks that we need to take care of our planet during three homestands — Tonight through Wednesday, July 6-12 and Sept. 1-7. There are all kinds of ticket packages, contests incentives and environment-driven events. Those can be seen at www.coloradorockies.com/green.

But the players can do their part while scoring runs. During those 20 games, one tree will be planted in the Denver area for each home run.

So next time some stat head criticizes a player for providing more power at home than on the road, he can answer that he’s doing it for our future.

The Rockies’ first step toward correcting the mess we’ve made of this big blue marble is trying to beat the big, bad Dodgers. Here are the lineups:

Dodgers

Rafael Furcal              SS

Orlando Hudson          2B

Manny Ramirez           LF

Andre Ethier                RF

James Loney              1B

Matt Kemp                  CF

Casey Blake               3B

Brad Ausmus               C

Eric Stults                    P

Rockies

Dexter Fowler              CF

Ryan Spilborghs          LF

Todd Helton                1B

Garrett Atkins             3B

Brad Hawpe                RF

Troy Tulowitzki            SS

Ian Stewart                 2B

Chirs Iannetta               C

Aaron Cook                 P

No patience with walks

Rockies manager Clint Hurdle has attempted to maintain a consistent and calm demeanor, even though the execution and fundamentals the Rockies emphasized all spring have been lacking. But that patience disappears when relievers can’t throw strikes in the late innings of close games.

Huston Street lost his closer job that way last week at Wrigley Field. Tuesday night, Hurdle unceremoniously yanked righty setup man Jason Grilli when he walked two in the eighth inning of the 9-6 victory over the D-backs.

There would have been cause for Hurdle to try to let Grilli escape. By using lefty Alan Embree to complete the inning, Hurdle left himself with only Manuel Corpas to finish the game. The only other reliever on the squad, Jason Hammel, had thrown two innings the previous game, and Franklin Morales’ injury early in Tuesday’s game meant Hammel was going to move into the starting rotation.

But he was not going to lose a game because Grilli wasn’t throwing strikes.

“We’ve got no time for walks late in ballgames,” Hurdle said. “Nobody. We’re not going to put up with that. If you can’t throw the ball over the plate late in a ballgame, I’ve got to get somebody else. It’s that simple.

“If you want more, and you’ve got an opportunity to do more but you walk two left-handed batters and you’re missing on your arm side six or seven straight pitches, I’ve got to go get you. He knows that.

“You saw the guy two nights ago, then you saw the guy last night. I asked him, ‘Which guy are you?’ That’s part of the challenge that’s in front of him. If you want more, do more.”

Here are the lineups for Wednesday afternoon:

Rockies

Ryan Spilborghs              CF

Jeff Baker                        2B

Todd Helton                     1B

Garrett Atkins                  3B

Brad Hawpe                     RF

Troy Tulowitzki                SS

Chris Iannetta                   C

Seth Smith                      LF

Jorge De La Rosa              P

D-backs

Felipe Lopez                   2B

Stephen Drew                 SS

Conor Jackson                LF

Mark Reynolds               3B

Chad Tracy                    1B

Chris Young                   CF

Eric Byrnes                    RF

Chris Snyder                   C

Dan Haren                      P

Tulo takes Tuesday off

Hello, everyone.

It’s been awhile. I took some much-appreciated time off at the end of last week, but I’m back and blogging.

Speaking of taking time, the Rockies are leaving shortstop Troy Tulowitzki out of the lineup for the first time this season. Trust me, Tulo, days off are good.

The Rockies have also placed righty reliever Ryan Speier on the 15-day disabled list with a left hamstring strain. Here are the lineups for an important game with the D-backs tonight:

Rockies

Dexter Fowler          CF

Ryan Spilborghs      LF

Todd Helton            1B

Garrett Atkins         3B

Brad Hawpe            RF

Ian Stewart             2B

Clint Barmes          SS

Yorvit Torrealba        C

Franklin Morales      P

D-backs

Felipe Lopez         2B

Augie Ojeda          SS

Conor Jackson       1B

Mark Reynolds      3B

Chris Young          CF

Eric Byrnes           LF

Justin Upton          CF

Miguel Montero       C

Yusmeiro Petit        P

 

Jackie Robinson Day, and the goings on of the Rox

Today is 62nd anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball’s color barrier. Everyone is wearing No. 42. I know I would if I had a uniform. But let’s all scribble a “42″ in our scorecards today.

This also is one of those rare days where something going on miles away is almost as important as the Rockies-Cubs game today. Triple-A Colorado Springs faces Reno in a few minutes — a special 11:05 a.m. MT start time.

Left-hander Franklin Morales, who held the D-backs to one run and struck out six in six innings to win for the Rockes last week, is starting for the Sky Sox. The Rockies sent him down because they don’t need a fifth starter until April 21. But they also didn’t promise they would bring him back, and they traded for Rays right-hander Jason Hammel. The club also said Hammel is a candidate for rotation work. Hammel had bright spots but oerall a so-so debut, giving up two runs with five hits and two walks in a 2 2/3-inning performance against the Phillies.

Anyhow, to keep up with the Sky Sox’s game, click here to go to MiLB.com audio. You can click on the Sky Sox or the Reno Aces’ broadcast. There have been technical difficulties with the Sky Sox’s streaming broadcast, so the Reno feed is an option.

In Chicago, the Rockies are going with left-handed hitters high in the oder, although that’s not a guarantee of success against Cubs righty Rich Harden. Last year, left-handed batters hit .200 against Harden. Righties did worse, .167.

It’s another tough pitcher for the Rockies, who faced a strong Phillies bullpen for the last two games of a three-game set at Coors and were vanquished by the Cubs’ Ted Lilly on Monday.

“This is the part of the game you embrace, the matchups,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “It doesn’t get any easier. There’s never an off-day when you’re playing. We need to show up and continue to do all the things we did in Spring Training and have trust in all those things that we did.”

Also, right fielder Brad Hawpe, who left Monday’s game with tightness in a left hamstring that gave him problems during Spring Training, is not in the lineup. Ian Stewart will make his first career start in right field.

Here are the lineups:

Rockies

Ryan Spilborghs               CF

Seth Smith                      LF

Todd Helton                     1B

Garrett Atkins                  3B

Ian Stewart                      RF

Troy Tulowitzki                SS

Chris Iannetta                   C

Clint Barmes                   2B

Jason Marquis                  P

Cubs

Alfonso Soriano               LF

Ryan Theriot                   SS

Kosuke Fukudome          RF

Derrek Lee                     1B

Mike Fontenot                3B

Reed Johnson                CF

Geovany Soto                  C

Aaron Miles                   2B

Rich Harden                    P

Wrigley in the rain

Who knows if we’re going to get in the Cubs’ home opener. It’s been raining steadily all day. But if it works out, here are the lineups:

Rockies

Dexter Fowler          CF

Ryan Spilborghs       LF

Todd Helton             1B

Brad Hawpe            RF

Troy Tulowitzki        SS

Jeff Baker               2B

Chris Iannetta           C

Ubaldo Jimenez        P

Cubs

Alfonso Soriano      LF

Ryan Theriot          SS

Kosuke Fukudome  RF

Derrek Lee             1B

Mike Fontenot         3B

Reed Johnson         CF

Aaron Miles            2B

Koyie Hill                 C

Ted Lilly                   P

 

Another starter with history … and Helton sits again

The Rockies lost on Saturday night again to Phillies pitcher Brett Myers, who is 5-0 at Coors Field. Sunday, the Phils turn to another righty who is tough on the Rockies — Chan Ho Park, who is 5-2 in 17 games at Coors Field.

Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said Park, who has had some tough times in recent years, regained some of his form last year with the Dodgers (4-4, 3.40 ERA in 54 games, five starts).

“He really sharpened up last year, in that role of pitching one time through the lineup, and now they’re expanding it,” Hurdle said. “He’s gotten to a good place. He’s worked very hard. We know how diligent he is. We know how focused he is.

“He’s going to spin the ball. He’s going to throw the slider. One thing we feel he’s not going to pound us inside. He’ll come in for effect. I don’t think he’s so much a fastball pitcher. He’s a finesse pitcher who pitches off his fastball.”

Also, for the second time this season, the Rockies kept first baseman Todd Helton out of the linmeup for a day game after a night game. Hurdle said he’d do that, so it’s not a surprise. It’s not fun for Helton, who would put himself in the lineup every day, but Hurdle and the Rockies are adhering to a plan to keep Helton healthy throughout the season.

Here are the lineups:

Rockies

Dexter Fowler             CF

Ryan Spilborghs         LF

Brad Hawpe               RF

Garrett Atkins            1B

Ian Stewart                3B

Troy Tulowitzki           SS

Chris Iannetta              C

Clint Barmes             2B     

Aaron Cook                P

Phillies

Jimmy Rollins           SS

Shane Victorino        CF

Chase Utley             2B

Ryan Howard           1B

Jayson Werth          RF

Raul Ibanez             LF

Pedro Feliz             3B

Chris Coste              C

Chan Ho Park           P

 

Gaudin a no-go for Rox

The Rockies looked at right-hander Chad Gaudin, released by the Cubs at the end of Spring Training. However, Gaudin agreed to a Minor League contract with the Padres, it was revealed Saturday night.

Can Rockies hang onto Morillo?

The Rockies designated Juan Morillo — he of the 100-plus MPH fastball but developing control — for assignment on Friday, giving them 10 days to decide what to do with him. But if he clears waivers, he could wind up still in the Rockies’ system, still with a chance to get his career on track in Colorado. He also could end up with a team whose scouts have liked him — the Marlins and Mets come to mind — but it isn’t clear if such a move will materialize.

The problem is this: many teams have pitchers they sent down but offered a callup as incentive to continue their hard work this spring. It could be tough tell such a player he is pushed aside as they take a flyer on someone from the outside.

Morillo, 25, showed progress this spring. It’s not out of the question that he could help the Rockies, if he stays with them.

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