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George Frazier to be honored at Rocky Mountain SABR annual banquet on Saturday night at Coors Field; Sam Fuld and Dan Evans will speak, Jason Hirsh will be MC

George Frazier Photo by David Zalubowski/Associated Press

George Frazier
Photo by David Zalubowski/Associated Press

DENVER — Longtime Rockies broadcast analyst George Frazier, who retired at the end of this season after 19 seasons, will receive the Longevity in Baseball Award at the 18th annual banquet of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research at Coors Field on Saturday night.

Frazier pitched in the Majors for 10 seasons (1978-87) with the Cardinals, Yankees, Indians, Cubs and Twins. He made trips to the World Series and completed his career with a championship ring with the Twins in 1987. Frazier broadcast Major League games with Home Sports Entertainment, the Baseball Network, ESPN and the Minnesota Twins regional network, and covered collegiate baseball and football as well.

While broadcasting Rockies games for rightsholders Fox Sports Rocky Mountain and Root Sports, Frazer also called national telecasts for Fox Family and Fox Sports.

Oakland Athletics center fielder Sam Fuld makes a sliding catch on a pop fly from Seattle Mariners' Dustin Ackley during the first inning of a baseball game on Monday, Sept. 1, 2014, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Oakland Athletics center fielder Sam Fuld makes a sliding catch on a pop fly from Seattle Mariners’ Dustin Ackley during the first inning of a baseball game on Monday, Sept. 1, 2014, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

This year’s keynote speaker will be Athletics outfielder Sam Fuld, and the featured speaker will be longtime baseball executive and longtime SABR member Dan Evans, who was instrumental in building this year’s American League East champion Blue Jays. Former Rockies pitcher Jason Hirsh, a pregame and postgame analyst with Root Sports, is master of ceremonies.

The event also features a silent auction. Doors open Saturday at 5 p.m., the silent auction and happy hour starts at 6, and the dinner and program begin at 7.

Tickets are $60. Click here to purchase, or for information,

— Thomas Harding

Rockies sign Descalso to two-year deal

DENVER — The Rockies and left-handed hitting utility infielder Daniel

Daniel Descalso

Daniel Descalso (Gary Cameron / Reuters)

Descalso have reached an agreement on a two-year contract on Tuesday. ESPN, citing agent Steve Cantor, reported the deal to be worth $3.6 million.

Descalso had spent his entire career with the Cardinals (2010-14), and last season batted .242 with no home runs and 10 RBIs. He is a career .243 hitter with a .313 on-base percentage, 10 home runs and 111 RBIs in 529 games. The Cardinals non-tendered him this winter. Descalso, 28, also brings 44 games of postseason experience.

The Rockies see Descalso as a left-handed hitting spot-starter who can play second base, third base and shortstop, and has limited experience (nine games, three starts) at first base. The regulars at the positions – DJ LeMahieu, Nolan Arenado and Troy Tulowitzki, are all right-handed hitters. Descalso has played in 200 games (91 starts) at third, 174 games (110 starts) at second and 114 games (88 starts) at short.

The Rockies needed infield depth after trading Josh Rutledge to the Angels for right-handed relief pitcher Jairo Diaz last week.

To learn more about Descalso, he will be available to fans via Twitter:

Brad Lidge and Ty Cobb’s grandson, Herschel Cobb, will appear at the Rocky Mountain SABR banquet on Saturday night

Philadelphia Phillies' Brad Lidge reacts after their victory in Game 5 of the baseball World Series in Philadelphia, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008. The Phillies defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 to win the series. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Philadelphia Phillies’ Brad Lidge reacts after their victory in Game 5 of the baseball World Series in Philadelphia, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008. The Phillies defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 to win the series. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

Former Major League star closer Brad Lidge, a part of some of the biggest moments in Phillies and Astros recent history, will be the keynote speaker at the Rocky Mountain Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) annual banquet on Saturday night at the Denver Athletic Club at 1325 Glenarm Place in Denver. The event starts with a cocktail hour at 6 p.m., with dinner and the program starting at 7.

Lidge, who last pitched in the Majors with the Nationals in 2012, was a high school star at Cherry Creek in Glenwood Village, Colo., and played collegiately at Notre Dame before being selected in the first round of the 1998 MLB First-Year Player Draft. Lidge was the Astros’ closer during their National League Championship Series run in 2004 and the franchise’s lone World Series trip in 2005, and was a key member of the Phillies’ bullpen during their postseason run 2008-11 – which included a World Series title in 2008.

Herschel Cobb, author of the book, “Heart of a Tiger: Growing Up with My Grandfather, Ty Cobb,” (ECW Press) will be the featured speaker. Herschel Cobb’s book recalls Ty Cobb as being a loving grandfather who opened up to his grandchildren about his successes and failures – a different picture from the one provided by the late Al Stump, Cobb’s biographer.

Also attending will be Dr. Leslie Heaphy, a noted baseball historian who is an associate professor at Kent State University at Stark and a member of the SABR National Board of Directors, will discuss the national SABR chapter. Heaphy publishes in the areas of Negro Leagues and women’s baseball, is the founding editor of the journal Black Ball, and is working on a book on the women’s baseball team of the 1990s, the Colorado Silver Bullets.

The SABR John Zajc Award will go to Nick Wilson, who has written four books and is a longtime member and official in the Rocky Mountain chapter. The Rockies Lifetime Achievement award will go to Pat Daugherty, who retired as the Rockies special assistant to baseball operations this year after 42 years in baseball.

Information about the event, such as the $60 charge for attending and the silent auction of baseball memorabilia, can be obtained at through the Rocky Mountain SABR Web site.

— Thomas Harding

East Coast a major pull for Cuddyer

Michael Cuddyer wore the special blue and orange jersey and cap while participating in the Chevrolet Home Run Derby during All-Star facilities at Citi Field in 2013. Now he'll wear official New York Mets blue and orange.

Michael Cuddyer wore the special blue and orange jersey and cap while participating in the Chevrolet Home Run Derby during All-Star facilities at Citi Field in 2013. Now he’ll wear official New York Mets blue and orange.

Michael Cuddyer understood that whether he re-signed with the Rockies or took a free-agent offer from the Mets, he would be a part of a team wanting to make the immediate jump from also-ran in 2014 to contender in 2015. In the end, he preferred to make that leap on the East Coast.

It’s likely Cuddyer left money on the table with the decision. Had he accepted the Rockies’ qualifying offer, he’d have been paid $15.3 million for 2015 with another shot at free agency at season’s end. With the Mets, he’ll get $22 million over two years, including $8.5 million in 2015.

“I think you don’t see that often in sports, but this wasn’t about the money,” Cuddyer said. “That shows the importance I placed on playing for an organization like the Mets and coming back to the East Coast, which is more like home. Looking at who the Mets are and where they are with their talent, it was a good fit.”

Cuddyer, who will turn 36 in March, is from Chesapeake, Va. He is a long time friend of another product of that area, Mets third baseman David Wright.

It’s an interesting comparison. Which team is closer? Is it the Mets, whose pitching includes National League Rookie of the Year Jacob de Grom and the return to health of Matt Harvey? Or is a better bet than the Rockies, who have unquestioned offensive prowess when healthy? Looking at it objectively, Cuddyer helps fill a major offensive hole for the Mets. Even with Cuddyer, the Rockies still have to address their pitching.

But Cuddyer did not want to leave saying anything unfavorable about the Rockies’ future prospects.

“I still believe what I said at the end of the year as far as the Rockies being close talent-wise, with their position players and with the talent they have in their pitching staff,” Cuddyer said. “By all means, I still believe in the Rockies. It’s just that I looked at the Mets with what they have, with Harvey coming back and the years that some of the other guys had, and coupled that with the fact they’re on the East Coast. It was nothing the Rockies did or didn’t do.”

Cuddyer said he’ll leave Colorado with fond memories.

“Winning a batting title and starting in the All-Star Game [interestingly at Citi Field, where he also participated in the Chevrolet Home Run Derby] made 2013 an extremely special year, not only for me but for my family as well,” Cuddyer said. “None of that would’ve happened without me going there.

“Playing for the Rockies helped me hone my approach at the plate. I was able to watch ‘Tulo’ [Troy Tulowitzki] and ‘CarGo’ [Carlos Gonzalez] and take bits and pieces from both of those guys, and apply it to my physical and mental approach. I especially learned from ‘Tulo,’ and the way he went after every at-bat. It made me better to play every day with him.

“It was a tough decision, no doubt about that. I’m leaving a lot of great friends and a lot of great relationships, not only teammates but staff, trainers, clubbies, front office and ownership. The way the Rockies treated my family and me showed that they really cared.”

How far are the Rockies from contending? The offseason strategy depends on their answer

Will shortstop Troy Tulowitzki be turning two elsewhere?

Will shortstop Troy Tulowitzki be turning two elsewhere?

New general manager Jeff Bridich, manager Walt Weiss and the front office he has put together are making quick work of assessing the Rockies’ roster. With the general managers meetings starting Monday in Phoenix, they must be prepared for talks with other clubs and negotiations with potential free agents.

I have no money for free agents. My front office staff consists of the birds and squirrels running around the neighborhood. So I’ll take some time to dig through the roster and bounce the ideas off you, the fans. Feel free to spend your lunch break (well, your work time, but we’ll keep that between us) walking through the tough Rockies questions with me.

Feel free to comment on Twitter: @harding_at_mlb

WARNING: There’s a lot here. The squirrels and birds crunched numbers and presented many scenarios. They’ve got a future in management.

Let’s look at the key question.

What type of pitching do the Rockies need to contend now and in the future?

Their last two playoff appearances could offer guidelines.

The Rockies went to the 2007 World Series based on pitching depth. They lost three of their five starters in August, and changed closers during the season, but developed and acquired good enough parts to stay in the race and win the National League Wild Card.

In 2009, they earned the NL Wild Card based on health and quality — five guys made all but eight starts, which mean they were whole enough and good enough to keep taking the ball. There was enough bullpen strength to withstand second-half injuries to lefty Alan Embree and closer Huston Street.

So, as trade rumors fly, it all comes back to the question: How close is Rockies’ pitching staff to the depth of 2007 and the quality of 2009?

Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez also could be on the move.

Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez also could be on the move.

That explains why the Rockies are listening to offers, not only for veteran first baseman Justin Morneau but for the very top guys on their payroll, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.

Let’s look at the rotation as it stands as the Rockies attempt to leap from 66-96 to contentions in the NL West:

• Lefty Jorge De La Rosa is the clear leader.  He’s by no means the equal of the front of the rotations of the defending NL West champion Dodgers or the World Series champ Giants, but not many folks can say they’ve thrived at Coors the way De La Rosa has.

• Righty Jhoulys Chacin saw his 2014 limited to 11 starts by issues with his rotator cuff and labrum. Chacin, the club and doctors decided on rehab and strengthening rather than surgery. Success of the decision will depend on the effectiveness of his rehab, diligent maintenance and, to some degree, good fortune. Not impossible, but it’s a lot.

• Righty Jordan Lyles and lefty Tyler Matzek, each 24, showed ability in their first seasons in Purple Pinstripes. Lyles went in with big-league time with the Astros. Matzek was making his debut. Can they go from developing talents to stalwarts? Once again, it’s asking a lot, but it’s not impossible.

The Rockies will need Jhoulys Chacin to bounce back from labrum and rotator cuff issues.

The Rockies will need Jhoulys Chacin to bounce back from labrum and rotator cuff issues.

• Beyond those four, there are options but none that compare to the competition. Righty Christian Bergman has more heart than stuff, but is promising because of his brainpower and competitiveness. The prospects behind him all have questions. Righty Eddie Butler’s debut year was spoiled by shoulder pain. Righty prospect Jon Gray is coming off his first full pro season, and the Rockies were careful with him because of fatigue at the end. Lefty prospect Tyler Anderson finished the year with an elbow issue that he’s trying to rehab over the winter.

Now, let’s look at the bullpen:

• Ageless LaTroy Hawkins returns as closer. With no big changes, it’s the same plan as last year – hope another option develops so Hawkins can pitch earlier in games.

• Righty Adam Ottavino overcame a month of struggles impressively enough last season that the Rockies see a bright future. There’s still the need to improve against left-handed hitters. Who knows? Maybe if he finds the magic against lefties, he could slide into the ninth inning.

• Lefty Rex Brothers went from a dazzling year in 2013 to a simply awful one in 2014. Part o the problem was the workload that fell to him when lefty Boone Logan was hampered by elbow issues throughout the first year of his three-year contract. The Rockies need rebounds from both.

• Righty Tommy Kahnle stuck out the full year as a Rule 5 Draft pick and showed a workable fastball-changeup mix. He’ll need to take this year’s experience and show greater savvy to earn an increased role.

• Beyond that are guys trying to establish themselves. Righty Brooks Brown’s control and ability to change speeds during his callups put him ahead of many pitchers who were on the staff the full year. The Rockies also hope for progress righty Juan Nicasio and lefty Christian Friedrich, who struggled as starters and were moved to the bullpen.

Weigh the dependable parts, the hopefuls and the holes, and you get a pitching staff that needs several quality pitchers in the rotation and the bullpen. Given that, how possible is it for the Rockies to contend in 2015? Are they prepared if they don’t content?

There are many ways to construe the Rockies' $15.3 million qualifying offer to first baseman-outfielder Michael Cuddyer

There are many ways to construe the Rockies’ $15.3 million qualifying offer to first baseman-outfielder Michael Cuddyer

A fine piece yesterday from Dave Cameron of Fangraphs suggests that extending the $15.3 million qualifying offer to first baseman-outfielder Michael Cuddyer could be construed as part of rebuilding rather than an attempt to hold the current lineup together. Cuddyer gets a nice payday, and if the Rockies are struggling at the deadline he could be dealt.

But these are the Major Leagues, where the majority of teams are in position to at least dream at the deadline. While there is a future to contend with, I and the wildlife outside my door want the Rockies to have a fighting chance in the present.

So here are some questions:

•Say the Rockies hold a strong lineup together and hold onto their big multi-year contracts, Tulowitzki and Gonzalez. They could hope to receive a solid veteran for the starting rotation for Morneau. Then they could go bargain hunting via free agency for another starter – say righty Justin Masterson, who is trying to rebuild his value after a rough 2014, or lefty Brett Anderson or righty Aaron Harang, who have proven ability but questionable health histories.

•Say the Rockies push hard to deal Tulowitzki and Gonzalez. Both are coming off shortened seasons because of surgeries, which might give other teams pause. The Rockies have said they will listen, and have given indications that clubs would have to make offers based on the players if healthy. Can they expect to receive star players who can rebuild the team?

What could NL batting champ Justin Morneau bring in a deal?

What could NL batting champ Justin Morneau bring in a deal?

•Let’s say the Rockies seek immediate payroll relief, rather than star-for-star deals or situations where they’re eating huge portions of the salaries of Tulowitkzi and Gonzalez. This is where the dreams get big.

With the money saved, maybe they can’t land any of the big three free-agent starters — James Shields, Max Scherzer or Jon Lester — and second-tier starters such as Ervin Santana and Brandon McCarthy could be risky propositions at Coors Field. But how about catcher Russell Martin, who could have strong offense at Coors and help the young starters? How about a big offer to righty reliever Andrew Miller, who could be the closer immediately? Righty setup Luke Gregerson pitched for the Athletics last year, but he has a long history in the NL West based on his days with the Padres.

All this leaves the Rockies with tough decisions.

The feeling has been they want one more run with their lineup core, only with some pitching added. They will have to believe they can acquire enough pitching through dealing not just Morneau but two arbitration-eligible chips – catcher Wilin Rosario, who could be a fit as a catcher-designated hitter in the American League, and outfielder Drew Stubbs, who recaptured some of his run-producing potential with the Rockies.

To succeed, such a plan has to have the Rockies stay healthy in the rotation, contend enough to be able to make trades at next summer’s non-waiver Trade Deadline, and finish the year with a roster and payroll capable of succeeding in future years.

All this makes the big trade sounds attractive, but there are risks.

Any deal involving Tulowitzki or Gonzalez would leave a big hole. When healthy, they not only are All-Stars and offensive threats, but they’re Gold Glove Award types. Also, if the Rockies don’t eat salary, the return might be less than if they were more willing in that regard. They’d have to count on any position player having his stats enhanced at Coors Field, and any young pitcher being an immediate help — an iffy proposition, based on history.

Should the Rockies take the plunge and deal Tulowitkzi or Gonzalez, or both, they key is not stopping there. Some of the players who come in a trade may have to be spun to other teams, especially if they use hitting prospects they receive to pull in pitchers.

— Thomas Harding

Rockies trade possibilities could open if Michael Cuddyer accepts the $15.3 million qualifying offer

032314_Michael_Cuddyer_1280_k4rup8fq_fu4ujqe2By extending a qualifying offer — defined as a one-year, $15.3 million contract offer – to free-agent first baseman-outfielder Michael Cuddyer, the Rockies actually are making it known that they are willing to trade for pitching.

Cuddyer could receive a two-year deal worth $22 million – a prediction from Zach Links of the fine MLB Trade Rumors Web site. But a $15.3 million payday in 2015, with the chance to play a healthy season and hit the market again next year, is hard to turn down.

The problem is the Rockies are set at first base with Justin Morneau and in right field with Carlos Gonzalez.

Unless …

Given his production in 2014 — a National League batting title, plus a Rawlings Gold Glove Award nomination and a Comeback Player nomination from the GIBBY Aards – Morneau’s contract is quite club-friendly ($6.75 million for next season, with a $750,000 buyout on a $9 million option for 2015). If that contract is club-friendly to the Rockies, someone else may think it’s club-friendly.

If that other club is willing to part with starting pitching — quality, depth or both — that looks like a heck of a match.

I’m looking at Morneau as the key trade candidate. Cuddyer could take right field if the Rockies move another of their big-ticket players, Carlos Gonzalez, whose own contract ($53 million over the next three years) is not bad if he can stay healthy. But Gonzalez is coming off season-ending knee surgery, which may lessen the offers. And the Rockies haven’t been inclined to deal him or shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.

The other possible trade is of catcher Wilin Rosario, whose is considered closer to his offensive WAR of 2.4 in 2013 than to his oWAR of 1.0 during an injury- and illness-filled 2014. The going wisdom is Rosario would be a fit for an American League team, which can use him some at catcher but also as designated hitter. Rosario is roster-friendly since he is entering his first year of arbitration eligibility.

At any rate, Cuddyer’s decision could fully put the Rockies in business for a big deal in an attempt to transform their 2015 starting rotation.

There is risk involved. If Cuddyer accepts and has another injury-plagued season (he’s played in 280 games over his three-year, $31.5 million deal with the Rockies that ended this year), then the Rockies will have weakened themselves by dealing Morneau or one of the big-ticket players. However, pitching wins, and dealing for starting pitching often is more economical than signing it on the free-agent market.

If the dealing does happen, the Rockies’ actions are a message to the fans. Yes, it would be nice to have a Draft pick if Cuddyer signs elsewhere, but the Rockies believe they win now, and the way to do it is to obtain starting pitching. Impact starting pitching is worth more to the Rockies than a Draft pick, and it’s important enough that they look willing to deal a productive player.

— Thomas Harding

Bridich becomes new Rockies GM; O’Dowd, Geivett resign

DENVER — Jeff Bridich, who has spent 10 seasons in the Rockies’ front office, has been promoted to general manager, multiple Major League sources have told The shakeup, which make Bridich the third GM in Rockies history, will be announced on Wednesday morning.

In addition, resigning from the Rockies are Dan O’Dowd, who became GM late in the 1999 season and added chief baseball officer to his title during the 2012 season, and Bill Geivett, who has been with the club since 2000 and became senior vice president of Major League operations in the 2012 reorganization that resulted in O’Dowd’s chief baseball officer title.

The GM change, on the heels of a 66-96 performance in 2014 that featured the second-most losses in club history, is more extensive than anticipated. Club officials ended the regular season believing there would be some reshuffling but nothing major. Front-office personnel began meeting late last week, and the new arrangement took focus during meetings Tuesday.

The list of GMs is short in the 22-season history of the Rockies. Bob Gebhard held the job from the franchise’s formative years through the 1999 season, when O’Dowd was hired.

Bridich, 37, is being promoted from senior director of player development, a title he has held since September 2011. He joined the Rockies in 2004 as manager of Minor League operations, and in 2006 became senior director of baseball operations — a job that entailed contract issues, player transactions, payroll management, financial and statistical analysis and rules administration. During that period, Bridich was instrumental in the team’s strategy with arbitration issues.

Before joining the Rockies, Birdich worked in the Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball 2001-04 in the department of Minor League contracts and transactions.

Bridich, a Milwaukee native, played four seasons as a catcher and outfielder at Harvard University before graduating in 2000.

O’Dowd’s tenure, which began Sept. 20, 1999, was the fourth-longest in the Majors, behind those of the Giants’ Brian Sabean (starting in 1996), the Athletics’ Billy Beane (Oct. 17, 1997) and the Yankees’ Brian Cashman (Feb. 3, 1998).

O’Dowd, 55, was instrumental in hiring four managers — Buddy Bell (2000-02), Clint Hurdle (2002-09), Jim Tracy (2009-12) and Walt Weiss (2014-14), with Weiss being hired under the arrangement where the club’s day-to-day operation was overseen by Geivett.

The O’Dowd years included four winning seasons and two playoff appearances — a surprise World Series trip in 2007, and an appearance in the National League Division Series in 2009. After the 2009 playoff appearance — a season during which he replaced Hurdle (now the Pirates’ manager) with Tracy — O’Dowd’s peers voted him Sporting News Major League Executive of the Year.

The Rockies went 83-79 in 2010, but late-season injuries and a difficult September stretch nixed a possible playoff run under Tracy. The Rockies have not had a winning season since.

Like Gebhard before him, O’Dowd tried many plans in an effort to overcome the challenge of pitching at altitude. The most radical was an experiment with a four-man starting rotation in 2012, at a time when the rotation was beset with injury and ineffectiveness. The plan was abandoned before that season ended.

When the Rockies shuffled their front office in late 2012, the setup had O’Dowd overseeing plans and policies in the Minor League system during the season and taking total charge during the offseason, with Geivett embedded with the club home and road during the season. Geivett maintained an office in the Rockies’ clubhouse area.

— Thomas Harding

Geivett, 51, joined the Rockies’ front office in November 2000, and oversaw player personnel and the Rockies’ Minor League system before becoming the senior vice president of Major League operations, which carried the dual title of assistant GM. Under the system, Geivett and Weiss were the main spokesmen when it came to the club’s roster-building strategy.

Geivett was in charge of the Minor League system when it was named the Baseball America magazine organization of the year in 2007.

Before joining the Rockies, Geivett worked in the front offices of the Expos, Rays and Dodgers, was a coach and instructor with the Yankees system, and coached collegiately at Loyola Marymount and Long Beach State. Geivett played collegiate ball at UC-Santa Barbara, and played four seasons as an infielder in the Angels system.

Rockies injuries force Arenado into prime lineup spots, and he likes them

Arenado from above

As Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado was learning the Majors as a rookie last season, manager Walt Weiss said he could see Arenado eventually hitting in the middle of the order. Well, with Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki and Michael Cuddyer all out with injuries, eventually is here.

In 10 games in the prime No. 3 spot, Arenado, 23, is batting .326 (14-for-47 with four doubles, two home runs and six RBIs. Monday night’s game against the Padres was his 11th in the cleanup spot. He entered hitting .257 (9-for-42) with two homers, four doubles and eight RBIs.

Arenado said hitting in such prime spots is comforting, rather than burdensome.

“Growing up, I was always a 3 or 4 hitter, so I go back to those days, slow the game down and try to hit the ball hard,” he said.

Arenado flied out in his first two at-bats Monday. Both were with two on base – with one out in the first and two out in the third.

I’m hitting with more guys on second base with fewer than two outs, or guys on third base,” Arenado said. “At the beginning of the year, I felt like I was always hitting with two outs. I’m just trying to do a job.”

— Thomas Harding

Rockies’ Blackmon getting a chance to work through his slump

blackmon swing
Sometimes when a player commits a major mistake, he draws on the experience of Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. Once after he made a game-losing error, he noted that he was just happy he would have the opportunity to make more such mistakes. It wasn’t that he enjoyed making the mistake. He was just happy the Orioles would keep giving him a chance to play.

Now Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon can identify.

Blackmon entered Monday night’s game against the Padres hitless in his last 10 at-bats and 3-for-33 in August. But he led off the game with an infield single – Padres shortstop Alexi Amarista dove behind second to stop the ball, but didn’t have a play at first – that for all anyone knows could start a reversal of the trend.

In previous years, as Blackmon battled foot injuries and was trying to establish himself in the Majors, he might not have received as many opportunities. A slump could have meant time on the bench or even an option to Triple-A Colorado Springs. But he made his first Opening Day roster this year,
was one of the Majors’ hottest hitters in April, and he was voted by players to the National League All-Star team.

“I did pretty well earlier in the season, and that’s afforded me some opportunities to be able to make the adjustments,” Blackmon said. “Last year, instead of getting to play the next day, you’d have to come off the bench that day and maybe do it again the next day.”

After Blackmon’s hot start, he began seeing more off-speed pitches early in the count. Blackmon was able to fight through that. Now pitchers are varying from pitch to pitch at a level he did not see earlier.

“They’ve mixing it up way more – velocities, locations and all that stuff,” Blackmon said. “It’s not just, ‘I’m going to throw fastballs away until you do something with it.’ It’s in, out, hard, soft, right from the get-go.”

Does being a leadoff man make it easier or harder?

“It depends on how things are going,” Blackmon said. “You always want one more at-bat [than players lower in the order in a particular game]. But sometimes I feel like I want to be able to see how the pitcher is throwing. The first time you see a changeup might be 0-2.”

— Thomas Harding

CarGo rests after running into wall; updated on Rutledge, Scahill and new starter for Thursday

730lineupRockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez took a day off from his year of pain.

Gonzalez was not in the lineup Wednesday night against the Cubs. Gonzalez smashed into the wall in foul ground, while unsuccessfully trying to barehand Junior Lake’s foul pop and protect his aching left knee and right ankle, during right during the fifth inning of Tuesday night’s 16-inning, 4-3 Rockies loss to the Cubs.

Gonzalez remained in the game until being removed in a double-switch in the bottom of the 12th.

“That was my only option,” Gonzalez said of trying to barehand the ball with his left hand. “My ankle was hurting, so I had no brakes. I tried to stop myself with the ball. My glove was down by that time and the wall was so close. That was my reaction.”

Asked how he felt, Gonzalez said, “Well, I’m hanging in there.”

Manager Walt Weiss said he wanted to give Gonzalez a rest. He’ll revisit starting him in Thursday’s day game that ends the four-game series.

In other Rockies developments:

• Rockies infielder Josh Rutledge said he is available in an emergency Wednesday night, after missing the first two games of this series with an upper-respiratory infection.

The Rockies scratched Rutledge 15 minutes before first pitch on Monday, and he ended up being sent to a local emergency room. The illness is not related to the flu that knocked him out of action earlier this year, but it was frightening nonetheless.

“I don’t think I’d ever been to the emergency room until this year, and I’ve been three times this year,” Rutledge said.

Rutledge was on the lineup card for Tuesday night’s marathon, but spent the evening at the team hotel. As the teams played well into the night, Rutledge thought about hopping a cab and joining the fun.

“I thought about calling ‘Doogie’ [head athletic trainer Keith Dugger] in about the 12th inning and see what he said, but I didn’t,” Rutledge said.

Because he slept the entire day and into the evening, Rutledge said he was able to watch the entire game.

• To help a bullpen depleted by the long game, the Rockies recalled right-hander Rob Scahill from Triple-A Colorado Springs. Scahill (0-0, 6.75 ERA in three Major League games this year) gives the Rockies a reliever who can pitch multiple innings. Switch-hitting infielder Cristhian Adames, who went 0-for-3 off the bench Tuesday in his Major League debut, was optioned to Colorado Springs.

• Because lefty Tyler Matzek pitched the 16th inning Tuesday, the Rockies will call up lefty Pedro Hernandez (6-6, 6.14 ERA at Colorado Springs) to start against the Cubs on Thursday. Hernandez has appeared in 15 career Major League games, including 13 starts, with the Twins and White Sox (3-4, 7.57 ERA).

Hernandez will be the Rockies’ 14th different starter this year.

Matzek will be re-slotted into the rotation and will not miss a full turn.

— Thomas Harding