Rockies fundamentally sharp from the start
Eric Young Jr. led off the Rockies’ Cactus League opener by establishing that he and the club will hustle. Young landed a soft hit in front of D-backs right fielder Justin Upton, and didn’t think twice about going for two bases. One weak throw later, and the Rockies were in business.
Then veteran Paul Lo Duca dropped a surprise bunt and beat pitcher Billy Buckner to first base.
The hustle and attention to detail continued until the Rockies had an 11-1 victory at Tucson Electric Park over a D-backs team that, well, looked like it needed some time to get sharp.
“We’ve been back there [at Hi Corbett Field] working on a lot of stuff, and I’m just really pleased,” Tracy said. “We did a lot of positive things that are related to what’s going on.”
With two out and two on in the third, Seth Smith doubled and Chris Iannetta singled with two strikes, and Ian Stewart and Jonathan Herrera added singles to complete a two-run inning. The Rockies were crisp defensively. On the bases, Stewart was picked off second bay D-backs catcher Miguel Montero when he strayed too far from the bag on a ball in the dirt. But that was a mistake by a player trying to be aggressive, so Tracy had no problem with that.
Tracy has said the result of every game of Spring Training is not important, but the intensity and the intelligence with which the Rockies played Thursday are required.
“It’s a Spring Training game, yes, and there are things that we’re looking to see, there are decisions that you make that you’re not going to make during the season because of things that you want to see,” Tracy said. “But you play the game the way you want to play the game from April 5 [Opening Day at Milwaukee] hopefully through the end of October.
“As I told them, we’re going to play every pitch of every game. And if we don’t do that, whoever it is, we’re going to talk about it.”
That’s where right-hander Jason Hammel comes in. In the bottom of the second, Brandon Allen tripled to right-center. The throw to third base bounced past Stewart, but Hammel wasn’t in position to back up the play. Luckily for Hammel and the Rockies, the ball stayed in play and Allen stayed at third.
Hammel’s gaffe didn’t escape the notice of Tracy, who smiled and said, “It’s already been taken care of.
Hammel got the message.
“You have to remember the little things to make big things happen, and unfortunately I didn’t do my part on one — backing up third base,” Hammel said, even though he wasn’t asked about it. “But that won’t happen again. I was snoozing on that one.”
Tracy said he will point out the rare mistakes with pitch selection during the game and keep emphasizing various points.