Rox roster decision highlights worth of early games
Rockies manager Jim Tracy faced an interesting call: Do the Rockies open a season against a Brewers club that has slugger Prince Fielder and a full group of other guys who swing from the left with one less left-handed reliever than normal?
Tracy answered that question Sunday. Even with the need for one more lefty, Tracy decided it wasn’t worth risking Joe Beimel’s health.
Beimel signed a Minor League deal with the club March 23 and pitched all of three innings in Spring Training. Beimel felt he was ready. He worked out at a high school near his home in California. When he arrived, he showed more bite on his slider than at any point last year, and didn’t give up a run or a hit in his three games.
But Tracy couldn’t get past the fact it was three games.
So Beimel will go to Tucson, Ariz., and possibly begin the season in the Minors. It’s the Spring Training he didn’t have. Right-handed prospect Esmil Rogers will handle the long relief role, and the bullpen will have to make due with only setup man Randy Flores and closer Franklin Morales throwing form the left.
Tracy said Beimel won’t have thrown enough to be activated when the Rockies open the home schedule Friday against the Padres at Coors. Beimel would be a nice guy to have in these early series. Fielder is 1-for-8 career and Padres slugger Adrian Gonzalez is 2-for-21 against Beimel.
But when it comes down to the manager weighing his health concerns against two early series, the decision is an easy one. We’re talking about a Rockies team that has gone to the playoffs two of the last three seasons by making stunning late-season runs.
Teams don’t make those when key components of the roster are needlessly pushed into potentially dangerous situations in April. The Rockies would like to perform better in the begining of the year, but not at that potential cost.
Plus, the roster has the flexibility to send Rogers down to Triple-A Colorado Springs once Beimel is ready. There’s no need to potentially lose a player the club needs when the roster move becomes necessary.
So this puts it all in perspective. It’s more important to not risk losing players, either to injury or off waivers, than it is to have a perfect Opening Day roster.