March 2012

Multiple injury updates, lineups for Rockies-Dodgers

– After hitting and taking groundball Friday, Rockies third baseman Casey Blake — who must prove he is healthy after neck surgery last year to hold onto a starting job — planned a full workout on Saturday with hopes of playing Sunday. Saturday will be the sixth straight day Blake has missed five days because of soreness in the trapezius muscle.

– Left-handed pitcher Jamie Moyer was “virtually pain-free,” according to Rockies head athletic trainer Keith Dugger, when he threw a bullpen session on Saturday morning. Moyer planed a long day of strengthening, flexibility and treatment after the session. Moyer had been scratched from a Minor League start on Friday.

– Right-hander Jhoulys Chacin, who left Thursday’s start with a blister on his right index finger, said Saturday morning he was about to throw a 30-35-pitch bullpen session. Chacin left his start Thursday with the ailment after throwing 44 pitches in three innings. He said he does not expect to have any problem making his next scheduled start, on Tuesday against the Padres at Peoria, Ariz.

– Chris Nelson, competing to step into the void at third base if Blake can’t answer the bell, will start Saturday against the Dodgers at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Other players in the lineup needing big performances to make the squad are outfielders Eric Young Jr. and Andrew Brown, and catcher Wil Nieves.

– Rockies righty Drew Pomeranz threw 35-40 bullpen pitches Friday, will throw again on Sunday, and will start in a game on Wednesday. Pomeranz left his last start with right glute tightness.

ROCKIESS LINEUP

ROCKIES RELIEF PITCHING

DODGERS LINEUP

Dee Gordon, SS

Mark Ellis, 2B

Andre Ethier, RF

Adam Kennedy, 1B

Juan Uribe, 3B

Tony Gwynn Jr., CF

A.J. Ellis, C

Cory Sullivan, LF

Nathan Eovaldi, RHP

DODGERS RELIEF PITCHING

Alberto Castillo, LHP

Fernando Nieve, RHP

Will Savage, RHP

Ryan Tucker, RHP

Logan Bawcom, RHP

Brent Leach, LHP

Moscoso Pitches Into the Mix in 5th Starter Sweepstakes

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

On a night when fifth starter candidate Alex White‘s stock was roughed up by a four-inning four-run outing, Guillermo Moscoso made sure he remained a vital part of the mix of legitimate candidates for the Rockies rotation.

Moscoso pitched three scoreless relief innings of one-hit ball while striking out three as the Rockies fell to the Reds 4-3 Friday night.  He was the bright light on a night when little went the Rockies way.

“He was very impressive,” manager Jim Tracy said. “He pounded the strike zone with all his pitches.  His arm angle was tremendous, and he drove the ball down in the strike zone and commanded his breaking stuff.  When you do that, the swings are different.  I’ll obviously be wanting to see more of Guillermo Moscoso, for sure.”

Among the positives in Moscoso’s resume are his big league experience (34 appearances over parts of three seaons), his age (28), and his versatility having pithced out of the ‘pen in nearly 1/3 of his games in the Majors.  He was 8-10 with Oakland last year, posting a 3.38 ERA in 23 games spanning 128 innings.

“As far as I’m concerned, it goes beyond just what you see in Spring Training,” Tracy pointed out.  “This guy pitched succesffuly for the Oakland A’s last year, and you have to take that into consideration from the standpoint that when the bright lights come on, this guy’s not fazed by that.  He has some history behind him pitching in Major League games.”

Tracy has made no secret of his desire to leave Spring Training with a bullpen arm capable of starting, and that dynamic could play heavily into who ends up landing the last spot in the rotation and who is seen as a pitcher who can help the club in relief while having the ability to make spot starts or plug into the starting staff should a need arise. 

“How do we look from a starting rotation standpoint?” Tracy asked himself as fireworks boomed over Goodyear Park.  “Those [candidates] that aren’t [ultimately in the rotation], how does that fit the mold of our bullpen?  Can they fit in our bullpen?”

The first four spots in the rotaton should be filled by Jeremy Guthrie, Jhoulys Chacin, Drew Pomeranz, and Juan Nicascio, barring setbacks.

Here’s a quick glance at the top candidates for the 5th slot:

  • Tyler Chatwood, 22, Cactus: 3.86, 2 games/7 innings; 2011: 6-11, 4.75, 142 innings with Angels
  • Guillermo Moscos0,28, Cactus: 4.50, 3 games/8 innings; 2011: 8-10, 3.38, 128 innings with A’s
  • Jamie Moyer, 49, Cactus: 1.80, 2 games/5 innings; 2011: injured; 2010: 9-9, 4.84, 111 2/3 innings with Phillies
  • Alex White,23, Cactus: 6.00, 3 games/9 innings; 2011: 3-4, 7.01, 51 1/3 innings with Indians and Rockies

Thomas Harding will be back on the beat Saturday, March 17th.  Welcome back to the Cactus League!

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.

Split-Squad, Day-Night Double-Header Action for Rockies

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

The Rockies should put a lot of players in action Wednesday with a pair of split squad games in Surprise against the Rangers this afternoon and at home against the D-backs this evening.  It’s feeling close to a first round of cuts, so this could be the last chance for some of the Minor Leaguers to see some Cactus League action.

Manager Jim Tracy essentially brought his starting infield to Surprise and is using his starting outfield at home–with the notable exception that right-fielder Michael Cuddyer is starting at first base tonight. 

Third base is a looking question mark with Casey Blake out due to a stiff neck.  Nolan Arenado will be at the hot corner for the nightcap, and he’s a legitimate candidate for the spot, though he’d be jumping from High A Ball to the Majors.  Brandon Wood is another player creating a buzz as a potential third baseman, and he’ll be starting at short against the D-backs.

Here are the lineups and pitching plans:

Rockies at Rangers, 2:05 p.m. MT
Eric Young Jr., CF
Marco Scutaro, 2B
Troy Tulowitzki, SS
Jason Giambi, DH
Todd Helton, 1B
Jordan Pacheco, C
Tyler Colvin, RF
Brendan Harris, 3B
Tim WQheeler, LF

Pitching Plan at Rangers
Tyler Chatwood
Edwar Cabrera (LHP)
Josh Sullivan
Carlos Torres
Dustin Molleken
Stephen Dodson

Rockis vs. Diamondbacks, 8:10 p.m. MT
Dexter Fowler, CF
Jonathan Herrera, 2B
Carlos Gonzalez, LF
Michael Cuddyer, 1B
Ramon Hernandez, C
Charlie Blackmon, RF
Brandon Wood, SS
Nolan Arenado, 3B
Juan Nicasio, P

Pitching Plan vs Diamondbacks
Juan Nicasio
Rafael Betancourt
Matt Reynolds
Edgmer Escalona
Josh Roenicke
Mike Ekstrom
Joe Gardner

Rockies win Third in a Row, Pitching Sharp Against Dodgers

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

The Rockies have built a little momentum over the past three days, winning the second game of a split-squad match Sunday (5-2 vs the White Sox) and winning convincingly Monday (11-2 vs. the Brewers) and Tuesday (5-2 at the Dodgers.)

The key stat of those last three games is the “2″ in the opposing run total.  In addition to strong (though early-Cactus-short) starts from Jamie Moyer, Jeremy Guthrie, and Drew Pomeranz, the relief pitching has been equally efficient and effective.

There will be some unavoidable concern about Pomeranz’s early exit with hip tightness after two innings.  The 23-year-old southpaw, 2010′s No. 5 pick overall and a key part of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade (the “player to be named later”) was conscientious about keeping pitching coach Bob Apodaca and Assistant Athletic Trainer Scott Gehret appraised of his condition, which began while warming up.

Pomeranz described it as “annoying,” and emphasized that he’s not worried about, that he could have kept pitching, and that he shouldn’t miss any time as a result.  Knock on wood that he’s right, but so many springs have been derailed with those familiar final words.  There was no sign of his mechanics being affected by the tightness, and he pitched a perfect two innings with a good curve and great movement on his fastball.

The travel roster was filled with position players on the cusp, many with big league experience but none assured of a spot on the Opening Day oster.  Eric Young Jr. had a good leadoff bat, working the count and seeing a lot of pitches from Chris Capuano, though he was called out on what might have been ball four.  Jonathan Herrera had a couple hits and Chris Nelson and Tyler Colvin contributed as they have consistenty so far this spring.  Jorand Pacheco, Brandon Wood, and Charlie Blackmon all cooled their heels with 0-fors. 

The Rockies split squads again Wednesday, with a revers of their Sunday split-squad make-up — the starting infield is traveling to Suprise for a 1 p.m. game against the Rangers and the starting outfield is facing the Diamondbacks for a 7 p.m. game at Salt River Fields. 

Of note — Michael Cuddyer will start the 7 p.m. game at first base.  Manager Jim Tracey wants to get Cuddyer some experience at first with double-switches in mind.  He also plans to give Cuddyer some starts in right then move him to first mid-game so he can get used to the dynamic of switching positions in the late innings should a Helton or Giambi come out for a pinch-runner or in a double-switch.

It sounds unlikely that Casey Blake will play in either of Wednesday’s game.  After two days with a stiff neck, he and Tracy agreed to take two or three days to rest and see how things progress.

Padres to visit Rockies; big day for Rogers

Right-handers Jeremy Guthrie for the Rockies and Cory Luebke for the Padres will face one another today at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, but the more important pitching performance will come later.

(Of course, fans may listen live. It was brought to my attention yesterday that evidently all games aren’t free. There is a subscription service. I did not know that all Spring Training games weren’t free. My mistake. But the subscrption service is a great deal. Of course, I’m not a salesman, and I have a vested interest — I like eating, paying bills, etc. But it seems to me you get a bang for your entertainment dollar. Anyhow …)

The Rockies will give right-hander Esmil Rogers his second appearance of the spring. He needs to have a good one. After an invonsistent 2011 during which he went 6-6 with a 7.05 ERA in 18 games, including 13 starts, Rogers opened Spring Training by giving up three earned runs on three hits and four walks in one inning agaisnt the Giants.

Rogers, 26, has flashed potential at times, has looked lost at other times. He won a job in the starting rotation coming out of last spring, but suffered a right lat inury in May, missed more than 2 1/2 months and was hit-and-miss the rest of the year. He also has struggled at Coors Field (1-3, 8.47 ERA in 22 games, including seven starts) in his career.

It’s clear that Rogers brings talent, and manager Jim Tracy considers him a competitor for a spot in either the rotation or the bullpen. But there is a time element involved. He is out of Minor League options, meaning he cannot be sent down without being exposed to waivers.

Today also marks the first time that shortstop Troy Tulowitzki will have been in the starting lineup on consecutive days.

(Oh, on another note outside of what’s happening on the field. I will be away from the club for a few days. Owen Perkins, who has covered the Rockies and a variety of other teams for MLB.com, will be covering. Please read him on www.coloradorockies.com  him, and follow him on Twitter, @owenperk )

Here is the Rockies’ batting order:

Dexter Fowler, CF

Marco Scutaro, 2B

Carlos Gonzalez, LF

Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Todd Helton, 1B

Michael Cuddyer, RF

Casey Blake, 3B

Wilin Rosario, C

Jeremy Guthrie, RHP

Rockies relief pitching plan:

Esmil Rogers, RHP

Matt Reynolds, LHP

Rafael Betancourt, RHP

 

Jamie Moyer and Alex White are about to pitch; listen up

Sorry, fans. This blog is, like, massively late. Usually, I have lineups and a little ditty on what to expect. This just wasn’t one of those mornings.

Still, this is going up really close to gametime, so listen live as veteran left-hander Jamie Moyer continues his attempt to complete a comeback from Tommy John surgery. He’ll start against the White Sox at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Also, you can listen as lefty Alex White faces the Brewers at Maryvale Baseball Park.

Later today we will be posting a feature on Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, a driven player who is learning that sometimes it’s good to take the foot off the pedal a little and enjoy himself.

 

Chacin leads Rockies against Royals

Right-hander Jhoulys Chacin’s spring devoted to fastball command continues today as he starts for the Rockies, and most likely goes three innings, against the Royals at Surprise Stadium. Also, fast-working lefty Christian Friedrich will appear, on the heels of his two scoreless innings with one hit and two strikeouts against the D-backs five days ago. Friedrich entered camp as a darkhorse candidate for the starting rotation, and has been impressive.

Center fielder Dexter Fowler is the only clear starter in the lineup, but the game is a big one because several players seeking key reserve roles made the trip.

Rockies batting order

Eric Young Jr., LF

Dexter Fowler, CF

Charlie Blackmon, RF

Brandon Wood, SS

Nolan Arenado, 3B

Chad Tracy, 1B

Chris Nelson, 2B

Brendan Harris, DH

Wil Nieves, C

Rockies pitchers

Jhoulys Chacin, RHP

Christian Friedrich, LHP

Rex Brothers, LHP

Matt Belisle, RHP

Joe Gardner, RHP

Dustin Molleken, RHP

Stephen Dodson, RHP

Royals batting order

Alex Gordon, LF

Johnny Giavotella, 2B

Eric Hosmer, 1B

Billy Butler, DH

Mike Moustakas, 3B

Jeff Francoeur, RF

Lorenzo Cain, CF

Alcides Escobar, SS

Royals pitchers

Luis Mendoza, RHP

Joakim Soria, RHP

Sean O’Sullivan, RHP

Tim Collins, LHP

Noel Arguelles, LHP

Nicasio to pitch against Athletics; Smith not making trip

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Rockies right-hander Juan Nicasio, coming back from a broken neck that he suffered last year, gets his first Cactus League outing today against the Athletics at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Nicasio threw two impressive innings in an intrasquad game on Sunday. Listen free to an exclusive webcast.

Nicasio has insisted all along he has no fear of balls coming back to him. He suffered the frightening injury last Aug. 5, when a line drive from the Nationals’ Ian Desmond struck him in the temple.

Interestingly, the Athletics have agreed to forego the designated hitter, so Nicasio will also have to bat.

For the second time this spring, the Rockies are starting Charlie Blackmon in the leadoff spot. Blackmon, batting for the fourth outfield spot, homered off the Giants’ Tim Lincecum on Wednesday. Also, catching prospect Wilin Rosario will start.

The Athletics are not bringing former Rockies outfielder Seth Smith, who was sent to Oakland during the offseason for pitchers Guillermo Moscoso and Josh Outman.

Here are the lineups:

ROCKIES BATTING ORDER

Charlie Blackmon, CF

Marco Scutaro, 2B

Carlos Gonzalez, LF

Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Michael Cuddyer, RF

Casey Blake, 3B

Wilin Rosario, C

Juan Nicasio, P

ROCKIES SCHEDULED RELIEVERS

Tyler Chatwood, RHP

Edwar Cabrera, LHP

Rafael Betancourt, RHP

Stephen Dodson, RHP

ATHLETICS BATTING ORDER

Jemile Weeks, 2B

Eric Sogard, SS

Coco Crisp, CF

Josh Reddick, RF

Kurt Suzuki, C

Brandon Allen, 1B

Josh Donaldson, 3B

Brandon Moss, LF

Brandon McCarthy, RHP

ATHLETICS SCHEDULED RELIEVERS

Jerry Blevins, LHP

Andrew Carignan, RHP

Grant Balfour, RHP

Fabio Castro, LHP

Pomeranz leads Rockies vs. Royals; also, Rox face M’s in B game

Rockies left-hander Drew Pomeranz hopes to build on his scoreless two innings in the team’s Cactus League opener, a 1-1 tie with the D-backs on Friday afternoon, when he faces the Royals today. Fans can see the contest via a webcast. The game will start at 1:10 p.m. at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Felipe Paulino, formerly with the Rockies, will pitch for Kansas City.

Additionally, the Rockies and Mariners will play a B game at Salt River Fields at 10 a.m. on Field 1, which is just beyond the right-field corner of the main stadium.

Here is the Rockies’ batting order for the main game:

Dexter Fowler, CF

Jonathan Herrera, 2B

Jordan Pacheco, 1B

Jason Giambi, DH

Ramon Hernandez, C

Tyler Colvin, RF

Casey Blake, 3B

Chris Nelson, SS

Tim Wheeler, LF

Here is the pitching plan:

Drew Pomeranz, LHP

Josh Outman, LHP

Matt Belisle, RHP

Edgmer Escalona, RHP

Dustin Molleken, RHP

Edwar Cabrera, LHP

Joe Gardner, RHP

Here is the Rockies’ lineup for the the B game against the Mariners:

Eric Young Jr., 2B

Brendan Harris, RF

Brandon Wood, 3B

Chad Tracy, 1B

Ben Paulsen, DH

Andrew Brown, LF

DJ LeMahieu, SS

Jamie Hoffmann, CF

Lars Davis, C

Here is the pitching plan for the B game:

Rob Scahill, RHP

Carlos Torres, RHP

Josh Sullivan, RHP

Mike Ekstrom, RHP

Josh Roenicke, RHP

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