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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

 

A cold, rainy Sunday for the Rockies

Bad weather is playing havoc with the Cactus League today. The Rockies and Padres decided last night to postpone their scheduled game in Tucson, Ariz., until Thursday. But the Rockies still plan a game at Peoria, Ariz., against the Mariners, weather permitting.

Right-hander Tyler Chatwood will work against the Mariners, weather permitting, with lefty Josh Outman and righty Esmil Rogers scheduled to work in relief.

In an interesting lineup twist, Tyler Colvin, who has been impressive in his quest for a backup outfield job, will play first base. The versatility can help him. With the field expected to be wet, none of the Rockies’ regulars will be in the lineup.

Eric Young Jr., CF

Charlie Blackmon, RF

Jordan Pacheco, C

Tim Wheeler, LF

Chris Nelson, DH

Tyler Colvin, 1B

Nolan Arenado, 3B

Brendan Harris, SS

DJ LeMahieu, 2B

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.

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