Results tagged ‘ Carlos Gonzalez ’

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

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.

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

 

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

 

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

Rockies set lineup for Cactus opener

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Rockies open the Cactus League schedule against the D-backs on Saturday afternoon. Here is their batting order:

Dexter Fowler, CF

Marco Scutaro, 2B

Carlos Gonzalez, LF

Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Michael Cuddyer, RF

Tyler Colvin, DH

Ramon Hernandez, C

Nolan Arenado, 3B

Ben Paulsen, 1B

Left-hander Drew Pomeranz will be the starting pitcher, with Josh Outman, Rob Scahill, Matt Reynolds, Zach Putnam and Dustin Molleken are on the throwing schedule, with Mike Ekstrom and Josh Roenicke are scheduled as backups in case an inning gets out of hand.

Rockies manager Jim Tracy wants to be able to use Fowler at leadoff and Scutaro second in the order, but has said that could change. Scutaro hit toward the bottom of the order primarily for the Red Sox last season, but he is coming off a .299 batting average and .358 on-base percentage led the Rockies to plan on him hitting toward the top.

Veterans being given the day off are first basemen Todd Helton and Jason Giambi, and third baseman Casey Blake.

(This from the Rockies’ game notes:)

BROADCAST INFORMATION:Today’s game will be broadcast on Rockies Radio 850 KOA. Fourteen Rockies Cactus League games will be broadcast on 850 KOA, six games on ROOT Sports and 10 games on MLB.TV accessed through coloradorockies.com … The games broadcast on coloradorockies.com will be called by the voices of the Rockies Jack Corrigan and Jerry Schemmel.

Publication believes age will hurt Rockies’ defense

The Rockies’ decision to go older this year was designed to increase the team’s savvy and improve situational hitting. But will it hurt the defense?

ACTA Sports, publishers of The Fielding Bible – Volume III, seems to think older is not necessarily better with the glove. The publication points to four moves hurting the defense, under its various formulas that rate players in a category called Defensive Runs Saved.

– The publication reported that right-handed pitcher Aaron Cook, who has signed a Minor League contract with the Red Sox, saved six runs last year and was the main reason the Rockies’ staff was rated best in baseball from a fielding standpoint.

– Mark Ellis, who signed with the Dodgers as a free agent, saved 17 runs last season, and bolstered the defense after arriving in a midseason trade. Marco Scutaro, who played last season for the Red Sox, replaces Ellis.

– The book ranks Michael Cuddyer, a free agent previously with the Twins, as a downgrade from Seth Smith, now with the Athletics, in right field.

– Also, catcher Chris Iannetta, who was traded to the Angels, saved eight runs in what the publication rated as a tremendous defensive year. This year’s publication predicts veteran Ramon Hernandez, who played for the Reds last season, will cost the Rockies four runs.

Overall, The Fielding Bible rated the Rockies fifth overall in the Majors defensively, and is predicting a drop to 14th.

Of course, the Rockies could beg to differ with the publication at two of the positions cited.

– When the Rockies signed Cuddyer, one of the attributes they mentioned was his throwing arm, which they felt was superior to Smith’s and the team has no doubt in Cuddyer’s ability to handle right. Right is roomy at Coors, but Dexter Fowler covers extreme ground in center, and left — where 2010 Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner Carlos Gonzalez plays — is considered more challenging than right because of the room that must be covered.

– The Rockies also have confidence in the range of Scutaro. Last season, Scutaro played in 109 games and started 103 at shortstop for the Red Sox. The Rockies want to rest shortstop Troy Tulowitzki more than in the past, and Scutaro’s range makes him a logical option to allow him to do so. The club would have to feel a second baseman with enough range to play short is not a defensive downgrade.

 

Rox pursuing Beltran and Cuddyer; hope to sign one

The Rockies are trying to sign free-agent outfielder Carlos Beltran, two Major League sources told MLB.com on Tuesday. The Rockies’ involvement with Beltran was first reported Tuesday by CBS Sports.

A six-time All-Star, Beltran is coming off a 2011 in which he hit a combined .300 with 22 home runs and 84 RBIs for the Giants and Mets. He hit .323 with seven homers and 18 RBIs in 44 games after the Giants acquired him for a late-season stretch run.

The switch-hitting Beltran, who turns 35 on April 24, is a career .283 hitter with a .361 on-base percentage, and has 302 home runs and 1,146 RBIs. In 25 career games at Coors Field, Beltran has hit .276 with six home runs, 24 RBIs, nine doubles and a triple. He has compiled an .880 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) at Coors as well.

The Rockies’ search for an outfielder to bolster their lineup has led them to pursue free-agent Michael Cuddyer, who is considering a three-year offer with the Twins, the team with which he has spent his entire Major League career.

It is not clear when a decision from Beltran, who has fielded interest from the Cardinals and the Red Sox, or Cuddyer will come.  The Rockies are looking at signing one outfielder to bolster the lineup. Cody Ross’ name has surfaced, but the Rockies are not pursuing him at this time. They are unlikely to do so until after looking at other possibilities. <p />

That outfielder, however, will not be Josh Willingham, whose name has been connected with the Rockies in recent days. Willingham’s agent, Matt Sosnick, said Willingham’s decision is down to three teams but the Rockies are not one of them, and Rockies sources say they have not been in on Willingham.

The Rockies currently have an outfield, with Seth Smith in left, Dexter Fowler in center and Carlos Gonzalez in right. However, the Rockies have been dangling Smith, a left-handed hitter with strong numbers against righty pitching, in trade talks in attempts to shore up other areas of the club.

Stewart not in lineup for opener

Rockies third baseman Ian Stewart was healthy enough to be on the roster for Friday afternoon’s opener against the D-backs, but not healthy enough to start.

Ty Wigginton, signed as a free agent during the offseason, gets the start at third, and Jose Lopez, acquired in a trade with the Mariners, will start at second.

There had been talk of infield utility man Jonathan Herrera, who had an outstanding spring, (.371, four triples) getting the nod, possibly ahead of Lopez, but that was not to be. Herrera will be a versatile hitter off the bench.

Here’s the lineup:

Dexter Fowler, CF

Seth Smith, RF

Carlos Gonzalez, LF

Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Todd Helton, 1B

Ty Wigginton, 3B

Jose Lopez, 2B

Chris Iannetta, C

Ubaldo Jimenez, P

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