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Tulo’s left elbow surprisingly normal

Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki walked through the clubhouse with his left elbow unwrapped, and it was surprisingly normal in color and closer in size to his right elbow Monday morning.

Tulowitzk was smoked on the elbow by former teammate Ubaldo Jimenez in the first inning of Sunday’s Indians-Rockies game. Tulowitzki said he will not be in the lineup for Monday afternoon’s game against the Mariners and isn’t sure if he’ll play in Cactus League games against the Mariners Tuesday and Wednesday. However, he doesn’t expect to miss the regular-season opener Friday against the Astros at Minute Maid Park.

“I’m getting treatment, icing it, and they’re trying to massage out some of the inflammation,” Tulowitzki said. “I’ve been hit by a pitch before. It’s nothing more than that. I’ll be good to go. I’m not going to miss any [regular-season] time.

“They [the Rockies' training staff] did a good job of getting on top of it, and last night taking care of it, staying on top of it. We’ll see how today goes. If I can, I’d like to get back in there, but if I can’t I’m not worried about it, either.”

Given the bad blood between Jimenez, who struggled last season and bristled over contract issues before the July 31 trade to the Indians, and the Rockies, and given that Jimenez has criticized the Rockies and Tulowitzki shot back in defense of his club, the Rockies believe the act was intentional and have called for Jimenez to be suspended by Major League Baseball. Here is video.

Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reported on Twitter that MLB spokesman Pat Courtney said Joe Torre’s MLB baseball operations office is reviewing the incident.

Hitting coach wants better mechanics from Fowler

Rockies hitting coach Carney Lansford heard that center fielder Dexter Fowler visiting Las Vegas with Jason Giambi, Troy Tulowitzki and others for offseason workouts. He saw a stronger Fowler arrive at Spring Training.

Now he is looking at Fowler’s .114 batting average through his first 14 Cactus League games and wondering if there is a connection.

“He lifted a lot this offseason, got a lot stronger, so he’s trying to hit the ball farther, which is a huge mistake for him,” Lansford said Tuesday morning. “I don’t mind him lifting. I just don’t want him changing mechanics from what he did the second half of last season.”

Fowler added a leg kick to his swing in the middle of last season, during a demotion to Triple-A Colorado Springs. He returned with improved timing and put up strong second half numbers. But Lansford and manager Jim Tracy have noticed that the kick wasn’t the same. Corrections are being made in hopes of avoiding a slow start, something Fowler has suffered through the last two years.

“He was picking [his foot] up too far, and his hands were not in the right spot, either,” Lansford said. “He’s going back to where he feels comfortable with his hands. He’s actually starting to swing the bat better. We’ve got nine days left. It would be the perfect time to get right, going into the season.

Fowler had another rough day at the plate Monday against the Angels, but Tracy said his swing was bettr and he hasn’t carried his offensive struggles to the field.

Usually the leadoff hitter, or No. 2 hitter on days Tracy experiements with Marco Scutaro in the top spot, Fowler hit eighth Tuesday afternoon against the D-backs. Eric Young Jr. batted leadoff and started in left. Jonathan Herrera, fighting the numbers game for an Opening Day roster spot, is hitting second and Scutaro is batting third.

ROCKIES LINEUP

Eric Young Jr., LF

Jonathan Herrera, SS

Marco Scutaro, 2B

Ramon Hernandez, C

Todd Helton, 1B

Jordan Pacheco, 3B

Tyler Colvin, RF

Dexter Fowler, CF

Jeremy Guthrie, RHP

ROCKIES RELIEF PITCHING

Rex Brothers, LHP

Josh Roenicke, RHP

Rafael Betancourt, RHP

Keith Weiser, LHP

Zach Simons, RHP

D-BACKS LINEUP

Gerardo Parra, LF

Aaron Hill, 2B

Justin Upton, RF

Lyle Overbay, 1B

Ryan Roberts, 2B

Henry Blanco, C

John McDonald, SS

Patrick Corbin, LHP

D-BACKS RELIEF PITCHING

Craig Breslow, LHP

Joe Paterson, RHP

Bryan Shaw, RHP

Mike Zagurski, LHP

Brad Ziegler, RHP

Also, the Rockies are using right-handed pitcher Guillermo Moscoso in a Minor League game.

Making the team better is bigger than making the team

Spring Training can feel like a lot of time to determine little. Teams spend six weeks figuring out the fifth starter, a bullpen position or two, the last infielder and outfielder, and the backup catcher. If we’re lucky, a position or two in the regular lineup. The media fill the World Wide Web with stories about players who will go largely ignored during the regular season. Of course, nothing is wrong with this. And if one of these backups becomes a star, fans have a chance to remember something about him, or at least they can plug his name into a search engine and find plenty.

But the real issue flies under the radar.

In all this activity, what do the stars and backups alike do that will carry over into the regular season?

Probelm is the important work is hard to measure. Last year’s Rockies best illustrate this issue.

The Rockies were 20-11-1 last spring. The storyline went that moving from Tucson, Ariz., to the new complex in Scottsdale, Ariz., meant more regualrs could play regularly, and it showed in the performance. The party line was more time together meant better fundamental play.

But as the Rockies were careening toward 89 losses, I talked to one veteran player who made a point: Many of those sound, fundamental at-bats — the productive outs, the hit-and-runs, the walks — came from young players who were not even in the big-league radar. When they were in the game, the guys they were just as far from the Majors. All of this made the sparkling record empty.

Manager Jim Tracy is paying special attention to the starters this spring to make sure they’re playing winning baseball, even though the victories don’t count once the regular year begins.

After Saturday’s victory over the Giants, Tracy was every bit as excited about outfielder Tyler Colvin’s hit-and-run that drove in a run as he was about Juan Nicasio’s 5 2/3 innings of positive pitching. After Saturday’s victory over the Giants, he made a point of mentioning Jonathan Herrera’s well-executed hit-and-run that led to a two-run inning and complimented Carlos Gonzalez on an RBI groundout with two strikes. These comments have been common this spring.

The headlines will go to position competitions, but we all can use the reminder that spring is not just about making the team.

It’s about making the team better.

Some notes about today’s game against the Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium:

– Marco Scutaro, who played shortstop for the Red Sox last season but was acquired by the Rockies to start at second base, will make his first Cactus League start at short today. Scutaro’s ability to move to short is important.

Tracy has vowed not to overuse regular shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. Last season, Tulowitzki played in 143 games but that was with him not playing after Sept. 22 with hip soreness. He would have played had the team been in the playoff hunt, but would his production have been compromised? Would he have put himself at risk for further injury?

The 140-game mark sounds smart, but the Rockies need to do that at a normal pace. If they need the National Guard to keep him out of the lineup for a few games in April and May, so be it.

The Rockies have several players capable of playing short in a pinch, but Scutaro represents an experienced alternative with classic shortstop abilities.

– For the second time this spring, Scutaro is batting first and Dexter Fowler is hitting second. They usually are flopped. The first time it happened, Scutaro delivered an RBI double and Fowler had a good game at the plate. Both have spent the spring searching for their swings.

– Regular right fielder Michael Cuddyer is starting at first base today. Tracy had used Cuddyer for eight defensive innings at the position in previous spring games, but Cuddyer must be prepared for more. If Todd Helton’s back becomes an issue, the Rockies could move Cuddyer to first and fill his spot with a backup outfielder.

Here is a look at today’s lineups:

ROCKIES BATTING ORDER

Marco Scutaro, SS

Dexter Fowler, CF

Carlos Gonzalez, LF

Jason Giambi, DH

Michael Cuddyer, 1B

Jordan Pacheco, 3B

Wilin Rosario, C

Tyler Colvin, RF

Brandon Wood, 2B

ROCKIES PITCHING

Starter: Drew Pomeranz, LHP

Matt Reynolds, LHP

Edgmer Escalona, RHP

Matt Belisle, RHP

Josh Outman, LHP

Stephen Dodson, RHP

ANGELS BATTING ORDER

Erick Aybar, SS

Howie Kendrick, 2B

Albert Pujols, 1B

Torii Hunter, RF

Vernon Wells, CF

Kendrys Morales, DH

Bobby Abreu, LF

Alberto Callaspo, 3B

Chris Iannetta, C

ANGELS PITCHING

Starter: Garrett Richards, RHP

Jordan Walden, RHP

Hisanori Takahashi, LHP

Rich Thompson, RHP

 

Chacin must be efficient; Pacheco working on infield defense

Rockies right-hander Jhoulys Chacin struggled in his last outing, after suffering a finger blister in the outing before that. Quite simply, the Rockies expect Chacin to be efficient today against the Reds.

Also, the Rockies have placed Jordan Pacheco on today’s roster as a backup infielder. Pacheco, a right-handed hitting utility man whose bat has impressed the Rockies,  has peformed well at catcher throughout camp. Pacheco, an infielder in college, has made some good plays at third base but he is still considered a work in progress. At the end of the Rockies’ batting practice, Pacheco spent extra time with infield coach Rich Dauer fielding balls off the bat and working on his stance and movement.

Here are the lineups:

ROCKIES BATTING ORDER

Eric Young Jr., CF

Jonathan Herrera, 2B

Carlos Gonzalez, LF

Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Todd Helton, 1B

Michael Cuddyer, RF

Ramon Hernandez, C

Casey Blake, 3B

Jhoulys Chacin, RHP

ROCKIES RELIEF PITCHING

Matt Reynolds, LHP

Esmil Rogers, RHP

Alex White, RHP

Stephen Dodson, RHP

Mike Ekstrom, RHP

REDS BATTING ORDER

Brandon Phillips, 2B

Zack Cozart, SS

Joey Votto, 1B

Scott Rolen, 3B

Jay Bruce, RF

Chris Heisey, LF

Drew Stubbs, CF

Devin Mesoraco, C

Johnny Cueto, RHP

REDS RELIEF PITCHING

Drew Hayes, RHP

Brandon Hynick, RHP

Sam LeCure, RHP

Logan Ondruzek, RHP

Chris Manno, LHP

Thirty-five beautiful seconds of twitvid; Rockies face Giants

For those who spend the full six weeks in Spring Training, it can get old. For those who come for a few days, it’s nice to be at the ballpark, but the games aren’t as important as the fun, sun, hot dogs and beverages. But every now and then, something happens that makes you take notice and smile.

It came across my Twitter feed this morning.

The Rockies, from their @rockies Twitter account, sent out 35 glorious seconds of video of left-hander Jorge De La Rosa throwing his first “live” bullpen session. The video shows two nice pitches. Also, Michael Cuddyer and Carlos Gonzalez swung the bat against De La Rosa during the session.

Will De La Rosa come back from the elbow surgery he underwent last May any faster than late May or mid June? No. But seeing him burning fastballs, no matter what the setting, is energetic for Rockies fans.

The Rockies are playing the Giants today at Scottsdale Stadium. The most interesting lineup twist is Jordan Pacheco starting at catcher and batting third. If Casey Blake is healthy enough to begin the year as the Rockies’ starting third baseman, the dominoes could fall in a manner that has Pacheco beginning the year as the backup catcher.

The only drawback of using Pacheco, who also plays the corner infield spots, as the second catcher is the team loses his bat late in games. Managers are reluctant to use the backup catcher before they have to in a game; if the backup has been used as a pinch-hitter and the starter has been injured, the team is in a bind. However, starting catcher Ramon Hernandez, at 35 and turning 36 May 20, will need more rest than many starting catchers, so Pacheco can get ample at-bats.

Here is the Rockies’ order:

Dexter Fowler, CF

Marco Scutaro, 2B

Jordan Pacheco, C

Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Chris Nelson, 3B

Tyler Colvin, RF

Eric Young Jr., CF

Juan Nicasio, RHP

Rockies relief pitching:

Rex Brothers, LHP

Josh Roenicke, RHP

Esmil Rogers, RHP

Mike Ekstrom, RHP

Zach Simons, RHP

 

Rockies deem Arenado not quite ready

The Rockies determiend that their top prospect, third baseman Nolan Arenado, is not yet ready.

Arenado, who turns 21 on April 16, was one of six players sent out of Major League camp on Friday. The Rockies wanted to take a long look at him in camp but were careful not to put pressure on him to break with the big club. Arenado had his moments, but also hit .192 with four doubles and five RBIs in 12 games.

Making it to the Majors would have been a push for Arenado, the club’s second-round Draft pick in 2009 out of El Toro (Calif.) High School. The team invited him to camp as a non-roster player after a big 2011 season — he hit .298 with 20 home runs and led Minor Leaguers with 122 RBIs at Class-A Modesto, and followed that up by earning Most Valuable Player honors in the Arizona Fall League. The Rockies did not announce the level of the Minors that Arenado would begin this season.

Officially, the Rockies optioned Arenado and right-handed Zach Putnam to the Minors and reassigned non-roster right-handed pither Carlos Torres, first baseman Chad Tracy (son of manager Jim Tracy) and outfielder Tim Wheeler — another highly regarded prospect, who hit .263 with a home run and two RBIs in 14 games.

The Rockies had earlier optioned infielder DJ LeMahieu to the Minors but kept him with the big club; however, on Saturday LeMahieu was reassigned to Minor League camp.

The Rockies still have 39 players in big-league camp, including six non-roster invitees.

Rockies’ Moyer hopes for better results; Fowler and Scutaro flip-flop

Pain in his left leg forced the Rockeis to scratch 49-year-old veteran Jamie Moyer from his last scheduled Cactus League start. His work Monday in a Minor League game — two home runs, six of 10 batters reaching in 1 1/3 innings — left much to be desired, although there was some positive.

“It was a good day — feelings-wise,” Moyer said. “Results-wise, they weren’t good.”

Moyer hopes to feel good and have a positive outcome tonight, when the Rockies and Giants meet at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

After his last game, Moyer insisted he was healthy and manager Jim Tracy said that was all that really mattered. Now Moyer is hoping to take the next step.

In successful early Cactus League work, Moyer used his fastball, curve and changeup. But he hadn’t begun to work his cut fastball, since he felt he could build arm strength that way. Now he plans to increase his use of that pitch.

In a lineup twist, second baseman Marco Scutaro will lead off and center fielder Dexter Fowler will hit second, in a flip-flop. Both have been searching for their swings this spring.

Here is the Rockies’ lineup for tonight:

Marco Scutaro, 2B

Dexter Fowler, CF

Carlos Gonzalez, LF

Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Todd Helton, 1B

Michael Cuddyer, RF

Casey Blake, 3B

Wilin Rosario, C

Jamie Moyer, LHP

– Tim Lincecum was listed as the Giants’ pitcher for tonight, but he threw in a Minor League game during the afternoon.

– In other action, right-hander Jeremy Guthrie will pitch against a D-backs Triple-A squad tonight at Salt River Fields.

– In an earlier blog today, I listed the candidates for the back of the Rockies’ rotation and managed to leave out right-hander Tyler Chatwood, who very well could be the guy. It’s Spring Training for the writers, too.

Big day for Rockies’ Moscoso in Tucson

The Rockies and Padres are gearing up for a Spring Training exhibition at Kino Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. — the place known as Tucson Electric Park back when the Rockies played there. This is the game that was called off because of bad weather a few days ago. This is big for Tucson, which lost all of its teams a couple of years ago. The fans should have a chance to see many members of the Triple-A Tucson Padres.

It’s even bigger for Rockies right-hander Guillermo Moscoso, who is fighting for a spot on the Rockies’ pitching staff and trending upward.

Moscoso, 28, obtained along with lefty Josh Outman from the Athletics for outfielder Seth Smith during the offseason, struggled in his frist two Cactus League appearances. He gave up four runs on five hits and two walks against the Cubs in his first appearance, and one run but four hits and a walk against the White Sox the next time he pitched. Granted, he was more concerned with putting pitches over the plate than anything else, but trying to make the team and possibly the starting rotation calls for more than that.

But Moscoso delievered in his last outing, throwing three scoreless innings against the Reds, striking out three and holding them to one hit and no walks. It looks as if rotation spots will go to Jeremy Guthrie, Jhoulys Chacin, Drew Pomeranz and, it seems likely, Juan Nicasio, who is making a dramatic return from a broken neck. Moscoso appears to be battling power pitcher Tyler Chatwood and 49-year-old lefty Jamie Moyer. A righty, Alex White, is in the mix; White will pitch in Tucson today. Outman was affected by the weather earlier in he week and needs to rebuild his stamina, so he might be more in line for a bullpen job.

Moscoso can work out of the rotation and the bullpen. If he continues to gain steam, he gives the Rockies a versatile arm.

Here is the lineup for the Rockies today in Tucson:

Eric Young Jr., CF

Jonathan Herrera, SS

Jordan Pacheco, C

Chad Tracy, 1B

Tyler Colvin, RF

Chris Nelson, 3B

Charlie Blackmon, LF

DJ LeMahieu, 2B

Guillermo Moscoso, RHP

Don’f forget, the Rockies will face the Giants at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick tonight, with Moyer pitching. Guthrie will pitch in a nighttime Minor League game at the complex.

Pomeranz to pitch today for Rockies AAA; more action to watch on back fields

The Rockies are off today. However, right-hander Drew Pomeranz, who left his last start with tightness in his right glute, will pitch today in a Minor League game against Angels Triple-A players at Tempe. Pomeranz is expected to work around four innings.

Manager Jim Tracy also said several Rockies regulars will be taking at-bats in Minor League games to sharpen themselves for the season. A Major League player can bat in every inning in a Minor League game, which guarantees the plate appearances he needs.

“I’m going to check with Jason Giambi after we get back off the off-day and Todd [Helton] to see if they want additional at-bats from the ones that they’re getting in the [regular] games,” Tracy said. “There is one stipulation. I’m not disrespecting anyone with regard to the statement, but I want them back there on a day when the Double-A and Triple-A clubs are back there. I don’t want them to go back there and hit in an A-ball game, just because you have young kids learning how to pitch.

“Double-A and Triple-A, you see guys that could show up in the Major Leagues. I don’t want one of them [veterans] getting hurt in an A-ball game. That won’t happen.”

Tracy also said switch-hitting leadoff man Dexter Fowler also will get Minor League at-bats. Fowler doubled Tuesday night against the Padres but also struck out twice and his hitting .103. Tracy said the timing of his leg kick is a little off, but he’s not panicking about it.

Moyer to throw Minor League game; Rockies’ ‘regular’ lineup set for game vs. Angels

Rockies left-hander Jamie Moyer, scratched from a start on Friday because of soreness in his left leg, will throw in a Minor League game at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

Coming back from elbow surgery at 49 involves more than just making sure the arm is sound. Moyer has always put himself through difficult full-body workouts during Spring Training and between starts. He has continued to do so this spring, but he’ll have to find a balance.

“My last couple years of playing, I’ve tried to modify that,” said Moyer, who suffered his injury in the middle of the 2010 season while with the Phillies and spent last season out of baseball, before signing a non-roster contract with the Rockies. “It’s not like this year I’m trying to do something completely different. It’s trying to work smart, recover quickly and appropriately and continue to prepare for my next outing.”

In the main game, against the Angels at 1:05 p.m. at Salt River Fields, right-hander Juan Nicasio will start.

With veteran third baseman Casey Blake returning after missing a week with neck soreness, the Rockies are using what could be their Opening Day starting position player batting order.

Here are is the Rockies lineup:

ROCKIES LINEUP

Dexter Fowler, CF

Marco Scutaro, 2B

Carlos Gonzalez, LF

Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Todd Helton, 1B

Michael Cuddyer, RF

Ramon Hernandez, C

Casey Blake, 3B

Juan Nicasio, RHP

ROCKIES RELIEF PITCHING

Esmil Rogers, RHP

Josh Roenicke, RHP

Carlos Torres, RHP

Zach Putnam, RHP

 

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