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

Blake to debut for Rockies vs. Cubs today

Rockies veteran third baseman Casey Blake will play for the first time since last Aug. 31, before his season with the Dodgers ended because of neck surgery.

Right-hander Guillermo Moscoso will start. Moscoso went 8-10 with a 3.28 ERA in 23 games, including 21 starts, for the Athletics last year. Moscoso, 28, actually made his first appearance in a Rockies uniform Friday in an intrqasquad game, when he gave up one run and two hits, with one strikeout, in two innings.

The Rockies also are starting Tyler Colvin in left field. The Rockies acquired Colvin and infielder DJ LeMaheiu, who is listed as a reserve today, from the Cubs for third baseman Ian Stewart and right-handed pitcher Casey Weathers. Stewart, a regular with the Rockies until he descended into a slump last season, will start for the Cubs.

On the Rockies’ pitching schedule are right-handed prospect Chad Bettis, right-hander Alex White, righty Josh Roenicke, lefty Matt Reynolds and righties Zach Putnam, Mike Ekstrom and Edgmer Escalona.

White is a candidate for the roation, along with Moscoso. White gave up one run on two hits, with a walk and a strikeout, in two innings of Friday’s intrasquad game. He was arrested Saturday night and, according to the Denver Post, could be charged with “extreme DUI.”  The Rockies did not discipline White further. White, who came from the Indians in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade but was pitching through an injury during his brief trial (2-4, 8.42 ERA in seven starts) showed life on his sinker during the intrasquad game.

Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who was scratched from the lineup before Monday’s game against the D-backs because of illness, reported feeling better Tuesday. Outfielder Tim Wheeler, also sent home Monday, is listed as a reserve today. There was no plan to play first baseman Todd Helton today. Helton also was sent home because of the illness Monday but was at the clubhouse Tuesday.

Here is the Rockies’ lineup:

Dexter Fowler, CF

Jordan Pacheco, 1B

Michael Cuddyer, RF

Ramon Hernandez, C

Casey Blake, 3B

Brandon Wood, SS

Tyler Colvin, LF

Chris Nelson, 2B

Wilkin Castillo, DH

 

Keeping it simple for Chacin, who debuts today

Rockies right-hander Jhoulys Chacin’s 2011 season started in glowing fashion, when he held opposing batters to a .201 batting average before the All-Star break. By the end, everything seemed complicated. The Rockies dealt former ace pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez at the trading deadline, and it wasn’t simply enough to pitch. While never asked by his club, there was an implied requirement that he become an “ace,” not just a strong pitcher but a leader and face of the pitching staff.

Manager Jim Tracy’s goal going into 2012 is to make sure Chacin focuses on one simple task that makes everything else possible — repeat his delivery. Repeating the delivery allows him to spot his fastball, which makes his tremendous secondary pitches useful.

The Rockies’ signing of 49-year-old Jamie Moyer, who has a quarter-century on Chacin, and the trade with the Orioles for in-his-prime starter Jeremy Guthrie pretty much takes any leadership burden off Chacin’s shoulders. General manager Dan O’Dowd questioned Chacin’s conditioning before camp began, but Tracy

So Chacin makes his Cactus League debut today against the D-backs at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, and Tracy is telling him to keep it simple.

“I did have a conversation with him in this office,” Tracy said. “It goes back to taking this opportunity in Spring Training to work on his delivery and repeating it, not getting into jerking and stuff like that, where his fastball starts to run away from him. He’s working on pounding his fastball for strikes.

“I personally feel, and you’ve heard me talk about this a lot last year, that if there’s one guy in this camp who can do what we saw last year with an Ian Kennedy [with the D-backs], a guy that is capable of taking a quantum leap, to me it’s Jhoulys Chacin, with much-improved fastball command.”

Here is the Rockies’ lineup, updated with Troy Tulowitzki being scratched because of illness:

Eric Young Jr., CF

Marco Scutaro, 2B

Carlos Gonzalez, LF

Jason Giambi, DH

Jordan Pacheco, C

Charlie Blackmon, RF

Nolan Arenado, 3B

Chad Tracy, 1B

Jonathan Herrera, SS

A former Rockies top Draft pick, lefty Christian Friedrich, is scheduled to pitch after Chacin. Friedrich, taken 25th overall in 2008, struggled to 6-10 with a 5.00 ERA in 25 starts at Double-A Tulsa last year. But injuries affected his 2010 season and his preparation for 2011. This past winter, he spent time working out with the Phillies’ Cliff Lee, and the Rockies have placed his Spring Training locker beside that of Moyer. Friedrich is in better physical shape, and said the veterans have offered him a high level of information.

Veteran reliever Matt Belisle also is scheduled to throw.

Items of interest for today’s Rockies intrasquad game

– Rockies fans in the Scottsdale area can watch the game from a berm above Field 1 at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. But get there early for the game, which should start at 10 or 10:15 a.m. The scrimmage might not go more than 4 1/2 innings.

– Eric Young Jr. has played the outfield twice, in Friday’s intrasquad game and Saturday’s 1-1, 10-inning tie with the D-backs in the Cactus League opener. But he will play second base Sunday.

– The intrasquad contest will be the first game action for right-handed pitcher Juan Nicasio, who has made remarkable progress in his return from a broken neck that he suffered when hit in the face by a line drive last season.

– There is plenty of competition for outfield jobs. Charlie Blackmon, Tyler Colvin and non-roster candidates Andrew Brown and Jamie Hoffmann will be competeing in the game.

– Righty Tyler Chatwood, obtained from the Angels for catcher Chris Iannetta during the offseason, makes his Rockies debut. Chatwood threw 142 innings for the Angels last year at age 21.

– Two hard-throwing relievers who could make a big impact thsi year — left-hander Rex Brothers, who is in line for chances to close games when Rafael Betancourt needs a rest, and right-hander Edgmer Escalona, who showed promise during a late call-up last season — are scheduled to appear.

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