May 2009

No hot seat, but still …

I’ve been asked on a number of radio shows recently about the jobsecurity of Rockies manager Clint Hurdle. It’s logical. After all, the D-backs fired Bob Melvin, and that team had a slightly better record than the Rockies. I said all along that it’s not the Rockies’ style to make such a quick change. None of my sources have said anything different. If there was heat, it was from the outside. A story in the Denver Post today confirms; ownership isn’t looking to make the big change.

Anyhow, here’s the issue: they’ve got to score to win. The Rockies’ pitching was supposed to be weak, yet the staff leads the National league with a 2.81 ERA in May. Their May record is 4-6 going into Tuesday night’s game against the Astros at Coors Field.

hHit and everyone stays employed. Or at least that’s the way it seems to me.

Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki will do his part tonight. The pain from the quadriceps strain he suffered Sunday is manageable, so he’s in the lineup. 

Here are tonight’s lineups:

Astros

Kazuo Matsui                   2B

Michael Bourn                  CF

Lance Berkman                1B

Carlos Lee                        LF

Miguel Tejada                   SS

Hunter Pence                   RF

Geoff Blum                       3B

Ivan Rodriguez                   C

Felipe Paulino                   P

Rockies

Dexter Fowler                  CF

Troy Tulowitzki                SS

Todd Helton                    1B

Brad Hawpe                    RF

Garrett Atkins                 3B

Seth Smith                     LF

Chris Iannetta                   C

Ian Stewart                     3B

Ubaldo Jimenez                P

Tulowitzki suffers slight quadriceps injury

Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitkzi left Sunday’s 3-2 victory over the Marlins before the top of the ninth inning because he suffered a strain of his left quadriceps in the same area of a complete quadricesp tendon tear that cost him 47 games last season.

 

Tulowitzki suffered the injury in the sixth while trying to change direction and reach for an errant throw from pitcher Aaron Cook, who had fielded Ross Gload’s groundball. Tulowitzki stayed in the game until the ninth, when he was pulled from the game after a discussion with head trainer Keith Dugger.

 

Clint Barmes replaced him and helped preserve the lead by fielding a Cody Gross grounder and starting a double play to erase pinch-runner Cameron Maybin, who entered the game after John Baker’s one-out double. Huston Street struck out Jeremy Hermida to end the game.

 

“I definitely wanted to be out there, but at the same time I was trying to be smart about it,” Tulowitzki said. “I thought that ‘Barmie’ was the best option. Everybody agreed. ‘Doogie’ said, ‘If you go out there, blow out and miss two months of the season, it doesn’t do the team any good.’ “

 

Manager Clint Hurdle said, “He probably might’ve been able to play through it. But if something crazy happens and he’s got to go make a play, and and that thing really is injured with the way he started to heat up at the plate, it wasn’t in our best interest.”

 

The Rockies are off Monday, but Tulowitzki will come to Coors Field for treatment, and he’ll possibly test the condition of the leg. From there, the club will determine whether he will miss time or how much he will miss.

 

“It’s the same thing as last year … I mean, it’s not obviously the same thing,” he said. “My leg is obviously a little weaker than the other one. It’s expected a little bit. But at the same time it’s more sore than normal.”

 

While the exact nature of the injury was not known Sunday, the Rockies know they must proceed with caution. Tulowitzki homered and went 2-for-3 Sunday, has had multiple hits in his last three games and is batting .326 (14-for-43) over his last 12 games to improve his batting average from .167 to .237.

 

“I feel real good up there,” he said. “I feel I’ve come a long way. I’ve been telling everybody I get off to a slow start every year and I’ll be OK. No one really wants to listen.

 

“It seems like I was still in a good place. I wasn’t down on myself. I still have a ways to go. I’m not happy with where I’m at. I want to get better each and every day, and I’m always working on things.”

 

 

Smith steps to the top

The Rockies’ lineup is much like the field in an automobile race. It seems one or two need to pull in for a pit stop to correct some problem with his offensive game. Friday night it’s center fielder Dexter Fowler. Also, the repairs for third baseman Garrett Atkins are going to take another day. He sat also on Thursday.

Fowler has not stolen a base since his modern rookie record five-steal game on April 27. He has scored just two runs and struck out 14 times in his last nine games.

Left fielder Seth Smith becomes the first player other than Fowler or Ryan Spilborghs to bat leadoff. Smith is second on the club with 13 walks. Smith and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki will bat ahead of Todd Helton (17 RBIs), Ryan Spilboghs (14 RBIs) and Brad Hawpe (18 RBIs).

“You’ve got the run producers at 3, 4 and 5, so I’m looking at somebody else to lead off who can get on base,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “If you look at the on-base percentages (.426), his is as good as anybody we’ve got on the club.”

Here are the lineups:

Marlins

Emilio Bonafacio           3B

Chris Coghlan               2B

Hanley Ramirez            SS

Jorge Cantu                  1B

John Baker                     C

Cody Ross                   RF

Jeremy Hermida           LF

Alfredo Amezaga          CF

Ricky Nolasco               P

Rockies

Seth Smith                  LF

Troy Tulowitzki             SS

Todd Helton                 1B

Ryan Spilborghs          CF

Brad Hawpe                 RF

Chris Iannetta                C

Ian Stewart                  3B

Clint Barmes               2B

Jason Hammel             P

Losing the numbers game … updates on Corpas, Speier

The Rockies have outscored their opponents this season, 115-113. It’s not a dramatic difference, but one would think it would mean a better record than 9-14. It doesn’t.

One way to address it is to say it’s a fluke that’ll correct itself over time. But manager Clint Hurdle isn’t going that route. He freshly remembered the 2007 D-backs being outscored (732-712) yet winning the National League West.

Not only that, but Hurdle is not relying on the mantra of “it’s early” to explain the team’s issues, which have manifested themselves in an 0-7 record in one-run games and being shut out three times.

“I don’t say it’s early now,” Hurdle said. “I want us to play good baseball and I want us to focus on the things we need to play good baseball, so when they’re not happening we need to address them. And I think you can get away with it for the first couple weeks of the season. Then it’s time to move on, time to play better baseball.”

 

Rockies

Dexter Fowler                CF

Ryan Spilborghs            LF

Todd Helton                  1B

Garrett Atkins               3B

Brad Hawpe                  RF

Troy Tulowtizki              SS

Chris Iannetta                 C

Clint Barmes                 2B

Jorge De La Rosa           P

Padres

David Eckstein             2B

Brian Giles                  RF

Scott Hairston             CF

Adrian Gonzalez          1B

Chase Headley            LF

Kevin Kouzmanoff        3B

Henry Blanco               C

Luis Rodriguez            SS

Kevin Correia                P

– In a non-development, right-hander Manuel Corpas is still on the club. Of course, if he doesn’t pitch better, the possibility of a demotion to Triple-A Colorado Springs looms large. Hurdle spoke in an encouraging tone about Corpas on Monday, however.

“He’s worked very hard on making those adjustments,” Hurdle said. “Guys go down and watch him in the bullpen, and you see what you want to see in the bullpen. It’s transferring it into the game, and we’ve had multiple conversations. We’ve coached him up, encouraged him on the value and significance of the role he has now. He’s been there. He’s done it. He can see it from a closer’s mentality.

“We’re at the point now where we’re going to have to find him a game here or there where we’re up or down a little bit where we remove him from the flame a little bit.”

– Righty releiver Ryan Speier said he felt good after throwing a simulated game Monday afternoon. Now it’s a matter of working on his lowered arm slot, which could take a few outings. He plans to go to the extended spring training in Tucson so he can throw without the risk of being hung with negative stats. That could take one, two or three games, then he’d be ready for an injury rehab assignment.

Taming Barry Zito

 

The Rockies are preparing to face Giants left-hander Barry Zito, whose struggles since signing a massive free-agent contract are well-documented. But Rockies manager Clint Hurdle noted that he thinks Zito has pitched well in stretches and there are signs of a rebound.

“He had some success against us late last season — soft early, hard in late, still uses his changeup as a go-to pitch and he’ll mix in the breaking ball,” Hurdle said. “One of the things we’ve seen is his control has bene more challenged out of the stretch than out of the windup. He’s been on some nice rolls in some outings, eight, nine, 10 hitters in a row, then somebody’s gotten on base and some problems have come up.”

Here are the lineups:

 

Rockies

Dexter Fowler         CF

Ryan Spilborghs      LF

Todd Helton            1B

Garrett Atkins         3B

Brad Hawpe            RF

Troy Tulowitzki        SS

Chris Iannetta           C

Clint Barmes           2B

Jason Hammel          P

Giants

Fred Lewis               LF

Edgar Renteria         SS

Pablo Sandoval        3B

Aaron Rowand         CF

Travis Ishikawa         1B

Emmanuel Burriss    2B

Steve Holm                C

Barry Zito                  P

 

Murton gets a shot … maybe

Recent callup Matt Murton is in the llineup in left field as the Rockies prepare to face the Giants and accomplished lefty Randy Jonhnson at AT&T Park. Well, they hope to play. But it’s raining and cold and nasty here. It’s often cold and nasty in The City by the Bay. Beautiful city, lousy weather.

With Johnson the mound, manager Clint Hurdle gave another day off to right fielder Brad Hawpe, a left-handed hitter. Hawpe was hit in the back of the neck by a thrown ball on Monday, and suffered a contusion that kept him out of the next two games. Hawpe said he would feel good enough to play tonight.

Anyhow, here are the lineups:

Rockies

Dexter Fowler            CF

Matt Murton               LF

Todd Helton               1B

Garrett Atkins            3B

Ryan Spilborghs        RF

Troy Tulowitzki          SS

Chris Iannetta             C

Clint Barmes             2B

Ubaldo Jimenez          P

Giants

Randy Winn              LF

Edgar Renteria          SS

Pablo Sandoval          3B

Bengie Molina             C

Aaron Rowland           CF

Fred Lewis                 LF

Travis Ishikawa           1B

Emmanuel Burriss      2B

Randy Johnson            P

 

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