June 2009

Torrealba has baseball on the mind

Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba was back in the clubhouse and, more importantly, in a baseball frame of mind Tuesday afternoon.

Torrealba, who last played June 1 then had toi deal with the kidnappings if his son and two other family members in Venezuela,  played four get-in-shape games for Triple-A Colorado Springs (4-for-15). He was to be looked over by the Rockies’ training staff Tuesday before the club could activate him.

“I feel good,” Torrealba said. “I’m thinking about baseball. I had my son with me down in Colorado Springs, and that was good. I’m ready to help the team in any way I can.”

The lineup card for Tuesday’s game with the Dodgers listed Paul Phillips as the reserve catcher, behind Chris Iannetta, so it woudl be at least Wednesday before Torrealba will be back on the roster.

Here are the starting lineups:

Rockies

Seth Smith, LF

Clint Barmes, 2B

Todd Helton, 1B

Brad Hawpe, RF

Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Ian Stewart, 3B

Carlos Gonzalez, CF

Chris Iannetta, C

Jason Marquis, P

Dodgers

Juan Pierre, LF

Rafael Furcal, SS

Andre Ethier, RF

Casey Blake, 3B

Mat Kemp, CF

Juan Castro, 2B

A.J. Ellis, C

Chad Billingsley, P

Bigger bat means better Smith

The Rockies’ Seth Smith entered Sunday’s start against the Athletics with a five-game hit streak. He is 3-for-8 with two home runs and six RBIs as a DH.

That coincides with Smith going to a bigger bat, from 34-inch, 31-ounce to 35-inch, 32-ounce. it makes a difference.

“This is the biggest I’ve used,” Smith said. “I tried it in batting practice and liked it.

“It makes you stay back. If you get out on your front foot at all, you’re not going to get the barrel on the baseball. Staying back is the ideal hitting position. And with a heavier bat, I can hit the ball a little bit harder.”

His new bats haven’t arrived, however. He is using Todd Helton’s.

“He’s pretty lenient,” Smith said.

Here are Sunday’s lineups:

Rockies

Dexter Fowler, CF

Clint Barmes, 2B

Todd Helton, 1B

Brad Hawpe, RF

Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Ian Stewart, 3B

Chris Iannetta, C

Carlos Gonzalez, LF

Seth Smith, DH

Starting pitcher — Aaron Cook

Athletics

Adam Kennedy, 3B

Jack Cust, RF

Matt Holliday, LF

Jason Giambi, 1B

Kurt Suzuki, DH

Orlando Cabrera, SS

Ryan Sweeney, CF

Landon Powell, C

Mark Ellis, 2B

Starting pitcher — Vin Mazzaro

 

Street enjoying visit to old address

The boos from the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum crowd surprised Rockies closer Huston Street on Friday night. But they didn’t hurt him, emotionally or on the mound, where threw a perfect inning for the save in a 4-2 victory over the Athletics.

 

“That’s fine,” Street said. “I’m not their guy anymore.

 

“I thought I’d have a little bit extra rush,” Street said. “Maybe it was because I faced [Orlando] Cabrera first. He had never been one of my teammates. The once you get the first out, it was very much like [normal]. We had a two-run lead and I didn’t want them to get anyone on base.”

 

Street said before the game sharing stries with his old teammates made the experience fun. The time Street has been in a Rockies uniform gave him quite a few stories to discuss with old friends.

 

Street won the closer job in Spring Training, lost it in late April even though he didn’t blow a save, and regained it. Through it all, he has succeeded on all but one of his 18 save chances.

 

That’s quite a bit of activity for a guy that folks thought wouldn’t still be here.

 

Street came as part of the Matt Holliday trade with the Athletics in November. But with Manuel Corpas on the club, there was immediate speculation that the Rockies would flip Street to another club. It didn’t happen then. Streets name came up in trade rumors early this year when the Rockies struggled early, but now that the team has jumped into the Wild Card race — and Corpas is out with a bone chip issue in his elbow — that has died again.<p>

 

“I want to be a part,” Street said. ‘This is our job, like anything else. You want to feel comfortable when you have your job. You want to be happy to go to work every day. When your job entails winning, where there’s a game to be played, you want to feel you have a chance to win when you show up every day. I feel like I’ve got all three of those things.”

 

Street has welcomed the trade all along, despite the brief period when former manager Clint Hurdle removed him because his pitches weren’t crisp. It was in a stretch when save opportunities were few, but Street understood.

 

“When I got the closer’s job in Spring Training, they said, ‘You’re going to have to pitch well to keep it,’ so I didn’t keep it,” Street said. “I felt Clint was very honest about me when he gave me the job, when he took the job from me, and when he gave it back to me. That’s why I have so much respect for that man. As a team we took full responsibility for what happened to him.

 

“That being said, Jim Tracy, our new manager, I can not say enough great things about that man. It’s not a compare and contrast. Simply, Jim Tacy has come in and done a fantastic job. He’s made little adjustments with the team that we needed. We needed a little bit added discipline.”

 

During his inning on Friday, Street took a line drive off his right forearm.  The arm was heavily iced on Saturday. Tracy said Street was available for the game.

 

Tracy hopes De La Rosa lets it flow

Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa has experienced some wild swings this season, sometimes within the same game. But going into Saturday night’s start against the Athletics, he’s swinging the right way. He has won three of his last four starts.

“He’s a get-untracked type guy,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. “I don’t know that he’s the type of guy where every single time he walks out there, he’s completely untracked right from jump street. I don’t think that’s the case.

“He has special pitches. He’s got swing-and-miss type pitches that if he’s trying to get untracked, he can make a couple of those pitches and they can get him through some things.

“The biggest thing that I want to see with Jorge is tempo. I believe his tempo can get a little bit better, not only make him better but also the people that are standing behind him.”

In lineup news, Clint Barmes, who went 2-for-4 from the No. 9 slot Friday night, is back in his customary No. 2 position.

Here are the lineups as the Rockies attempt to win the series:

Rockies

Seth Smith, LF

Clint Barmes, 2B

Todd Helton, 1B

Brad Hawpe, RF

Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Ian Stewart, 3B

Garrett Atkins, 3B

Carlos Gonzalez, CF

Paul Phillips, C

Starting pitcher — Jorge De La Rosa

Athletics

Adam Kennedy, 2B

Kurt Suzuki, C

Matt Holliday, LF

Nomar Garciaparra, DH

Jason Giamba, 1B

Orlando Cabrera, SS

Jack Cust, RF

Bobby Crosby, 3B

Rajai Davis, CF

Atkins siezes chance; Time to take notice?

This could turn out well for third baseman Garrett Atkins and the Rockies.

Atkins lashed three hits, including a home run, Wednesday against the Angels, and is back in the lineip for Friday night’s opener of three against the Athletics. If this is Atkins’ showcase for a trade, then so be it.

Atkins has hit .302 (13-for-43) this month, with three home runs and six RBIs in 15 games. Also, the Athletics are starting left-hander Dallas Braden, and Atkins is 9-for-his-last-21 against lefties.

Rockies manager Jim Tracy is proud of how Atkins has worked despite being supplanted by Ian Stewart at third base.

“He has been a complete professional,” Tracy said. “And I really believe if I’m looking at this correctly, from some of the types of at-bats I’ve seen him take as of late, he’s real interested of making a statement, ‘I’m still the Garrett Atkins that drove in over 100 runs three out of the last four years.’

“If he continues to force the issue that way, then obviously he will force our hand to do something very positive for the Colorado Rockies.”

Atkins will hit cleanup and clint Barmes, who went 0-for-12 in three games against the Angels, will bat ninth. Ryan Spilborghs moves into Barmes’ No. 2 hole. Here are the full lineups for both teams:

Rockies

Dexter Fowler, CF

Ryan Spilborghs, LF

Todd Helton, 1B

Garrett Atkins, DH

Brad Hawpe, RF

Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Chris Iannetta, C

Ian Stewart, 3B

Clint Barmes, 2B

Starting pitcher — Jason Hammel

Athletics

Adam Kennedy, 2B

Jack Cust, RF

Matt Holliday, LF

Jason Giambi, DH

Kurt Suzuki, C

Orlando Cabrera, SS

Ryan Sweeney, CF

Daric Barton, 1B

Jack Hannahan, 3B

Starting pitcher — Dallas Braden

 

 

Corpas has MRI on sudden elbow problem

The Rockies’ smooth sailing was interrupted Friday afternoon when right-handed setup man Manuel Corpas showed up at the clubhouse with inflammation in his throwing elbow, and wound up undergoing an MRI. The results are not yet available.

 

Corpas has thrown scoreless ball in eight of his last 10 outings. He pitched in the last two games and had no indication of injury.

 

“It stunned him and it stunned us,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. “As a matter of fact, he threw the ball even better yesterday than the he did on Wednesday.

 

“He threw a minimal number of pitches. We are obviously going to be proactive on this and we want to find out what the heck is going on with this — immediately.”

 

Immediately, Tracy said, it could push rookie Matt Daley into a setup role. Tracy could also play matchups using Daley, right-hander Joel Peralta and left-hander Alan Embree.

 

Friday night’s opener of a three-game set with the Pirates presents Tracy with a strategic challenge. Huston Street labored in his last outing, a save Thursday against the Rays in which he gave up two runs but escaped. Tracy said he was leaning against using him Friday, but he has not determined who his closer will be.

 

If Corpas needs to go to the disabled list, the most-experienced option at Triple-A Colorado Springs is Juan Rincon, who is 1-0 with a 1.84 ERA in eight appearances. Rincon is 32-27 with a 3.84 ERA in 416 Major League games with the Twins Indians and Tigers.

Reaching out to the Coolbaugh family

Former Minor League player and current MLB.com anchor-reporter Paul Devlin is participating in a five-mile Maryland Swim for Life in the Baltimore area on July 11. Devlin is asking for donations to benefit the family of Mike Coolbaugh, who was coaching at the Rockies’ Double-A affiliate in Tulsa when he was struck and killed by a foul line drive during a game on July 22, 2007.

Why, Devlin simply said he wanted to “give back.” He plans on giving 100 percent of proceeds to Coolbaugh’s children. Coolbaugh left behind a wife and two children, one of whom was born after the incident.

Here is more about the event.

 

On-base machine Smith to lead off

To give Dexter Fowler a day off, the Rockies are starting Seth Smith as the leadoff man for Thursday’s deciding game of three with the Rays. Smith will play left field, and Carlos Gonzalez will play the centre field that Fowler usually roams. The numbers certainly support putting Smith atop the order.

Smith’s pinch-hit single Wednesday night improved his on-base percentage for he season to .423. He has reached in 14 of his 26 pinch-hit appearances.

“First and foremost, he knows what a strike and what a ball looks like, and he will not expand his strike zone,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. “He doesn’t chase a lot.”

For a young player, Smith has a veteran’s knack for pinch-hitting and situational hitting.

“I see an an awareness as to what his responsibilities are for a given situation,” Tracy said. “For example, you’re leading an inning off as a pinch-hitter off the bench, we’re down by a run. He’ll show you the presence of mind of understanding, ‘I’m here to do anything I can do to get to first base.'”

Here are today’s lineups:

Rays

B.J. Upton, CF

Carl Crawford, LF

Evan Longoria, 3B

Carlos Pena, 1B

Ben Zobrist, 2B

Gabe Gross, RF

Jason Bartlett, SS

Dioner Navarro, C

Matt Garza, P

Rockies

Seth Smith, LF

Clint Barmes, 2B

Todd Helton, 1B

Brad Hawpe, RF

Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Ian Stewart, 3B

Carlos Gonzalez, CF

Paul Phillips, C

Ubaldo Jimenez, P

 

Throwing a man a bone

Rockies right-hander Taylor Buchholz underwent Tommy John ligament transfer surgery on his right elbow on Wednesday. Rockies manager Jim Tracy discussed the surgery with Rockies head athletic trainer Keith Dugger, who told him Buchholz received a surprise.

“As to the state that the ligament was in, there was a piece of bone actually growing into the ligament,” Tracy said. “Apparently, what ‘Doogie’ had said to me was the doctor maintained the fragment and gave it to him, just so he could see it.”

– In a lineup stacked with right-handed hitters, Garrett Atkins gets the start at third base instead of left-handed hitting ian Stewart.

Atkins, in spot duty, has been on base in six of his last 12 plate appearances, and is on a 6-for-12 run against lefty pitchers.

“Here’s an opportunity to see where he’s at, and let him know something that I looked him in the eye and told him in St. Louis, ‘Unless you quit on yourself, I’m not going to quit on you,'” Tracy said. “You’ve got to find spots to put him in there.”

Tracy said he wants to play Atkins enough to get his “pilot light burning all the way up, instead of some of the flickers we see periodically.”

 

– Here are lineups for Wednesday night’s game against the Rays:

Rays

B.J. Upton, CF

Carl Crawford, LF

Evan Longoria, 3B

Carlos Pena, 1B

Ben Zobrist, 2B

Pat Burrell, RF

Jason Bartlett, SS

Michel Hernandez, C

David Price, P

Rockies

Dexter Fowler, CF

Clint Barmes, 2B

Todd Helton, 1B

Garrett Atkins, 3B

Brad Hawpe, RF

Ryan Spilborghs, LF

Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Chris Iannetta, C

Aaron Cook, P

Is there room in your heart for Cal State Fullerton?

Rockies fans have another team to cheer, or at least watch closely.

Cal State Fullerton will begin College World Series play Arkansas at noon (MT) on Saturday. It’ll be a chance to watch three Rockies picks in the MLB First-Year Player Draft in action: first baseman Jared Clark (12th round), catcher Dustin Garneau (19th round) and second baseman Joe Scott (42nd round). All are seniors for the Titans (47-14).

Clark is hitting .363 with 12 home runs, 17 doubles, 81 RBIs and 14 steals in 17 attempts.

Garneau his batting .293 with four hom runs, seven doubles, a triple and 26 RBIs.

Scott is hitting .313 with one home run, six doubles, four triples, 39 RBIs and nine steals in 10 attempts.

Of course, you want more than stats so, we have a blog from Jared Clark.

Here’s something cool about the Titans:

They set a goal of being “First to Practice, Last to Play.” On Fb. 1, the first official day of practice, they hit the field just moments after midnight — with 200 fans watching — for batting practice, and eventually played a nine-inning scrimmage that ended at 4 a.m.

So they accomplished their first goal. We’ll see if they accomplish the goal that really counts.

Read more about the Cal State Fullerton Titans here. 

 

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