Rockies Back-Up Backstop Battle

This is Owen Perkins, blogging in place of Thomas Harding from March 12-16. 

Much of the focus on catcher Jordan Pacheco has been on gauging if his versatility in the field can keep pace with his prowess at the plate.  Manager Jim Tracy has bolstered Pacheco’s case by emphasizing his growth in his primary position as catcher.

“I’ve been extremely impressed with the progress that’s been made behind the plate even from last year to this spring,” Tracy said.  “He’s throwing the ball better.  Some of that is attributable to the fact that when we saw him early on he was still in the early stages of catching.  His throwing mechanics and his exchange and his footwok are better than they were last spring at this time.  The other thing that’s improved is his receiveing and the firmness with which he sticks with pitches.  He looks more at ease back there, he’s more fluid back there.  He’s making a lot of headway.  He fits.  Somewhere.   But where?  We’ll keep working on that.”

Pacheco’s sixth-inning, pinch-hit, go-ahead homer in Thursday’s victory over the Cubs was a perfect example of how his ability helps him fit on the Rockies roster.  Tracy, like most managers, is loathe to use a back-up catcher as a pinch-hitter when the team still needs to take the field for fear of having no catcher on the bench should anything happen to the catcher in the game during the remaining innings.  Pacheco took the field at third for the rest of the game and could have moved behind the plate if something happened to the catcher.

“If in fact you use him earlier than a late inning situation, you’d have to entertain the thought of keeping him on the field, which is why the versatility part comes into play,” Tracy said.

The home run was Pacheco’s first of the Spring, and it gives him four straight at bat with a hit, as he went 3-for-3 with 2 doubles Wednesday.  He is now batting .471 (8-for-17) in the Cactus League.

Pacheco’s homer bookended Thursday’s starting catcher Wilin Rosario’s second-inning homer, his second of the week.  Rosario has thrived since implementing changes suggested by Tracy about shortening his swing.  By focusing on good swings and good contact instead of swinging for the fences, Tracy is confident Rosario will be a better hitter and ultimately clear more fences.

“Over the last four games or so, his offensive approach has changed, his results are changed, and in the process of doing so he’s hit two home runs,” Tracy observed.  “He’s trying to square the ball up and just drive it. ”

Wilin Rosario is now tied with Carlos Gonzalez for the Rockies RBI lead this

Rosario is the first Rockies player with multiple home runs this spring, and he is now tied with Carlos Gonzalez for the team lead in RBI.

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