April 2009

Street is the closer — now comes the real test

The Rockies named Huston Street their closer, instead of Manuel Corpas. That came as somewhat a surprise to me, although not a complete one. Street has pitched with increasing sharpness as the spring has progressed, and he has a greater level of expereince than Corpas.

It’s a huge step for Street, who lost the closer job with the Athletics last season because of a hip flexor strain. He had a quadriceps strain early in camp, and that was repsonsible for some poor performances. But pitching coach Bob Apodaca reassessed Street’s program for preparing for the season, correctly spotted some flaws and put him on the right track.

The surprise for me was the Rockies tend to stay with known quantities. Corpas came up through their organization, and his work as closer was a catalyst in the team’s trip to the 2007 World Series.

I remember writing here some time ago, that the Rockies wanted Corpas to be more aggressive, less “civilized,’ to borrow a term from Apodaca. After seeing the angry look on Corpas’ face as he talked on his cellphone and borded the team bus, they may get their wish.

Somehow, Corpas will have to channel his anger into effective pitching in the eighth inning. Rockies manager Clint Hurdle, the staff and the front office will have to make sure the relationship isn’t strained. They have him signed for four seasons.

So, with 22 of the first 27 regular-season games against National League West foes and the other five against the Phillies and Cubs, Street had better be good and Corpas had better be ready in case he isn’t.


The last days of sweat …

Manager Clint Hurdle announced the position players for his Opening Day roster, but until the team takes the field Monday against the D-backs no one can be sure.

This makes for nervous moments for some players.

— Utility man Jeff Baker is considered a player who could hit for power with regular playing time. Manager Clint Hurdle will try to find that for him, but there’s always a shot that another team with a greater opportunity for him at third base may want to make a trade.

— It looks as if right-hander Juan Morillo will make the squad. Morillo is out of options but has pitched well enough in camp to earn a job. However, the Denver Post reported Wednesday that the Rockies are considering trading for the Rays’ Jason Hammel, a starter type, or the Cubs’ Chad Gaudin.

Right-hander Matt Belisle, who looks to be the odd man out with the Rockies, also is in a fluid situation, since deals could open a spot for him here or something could pop elsewhere.