Results tagged ‘ Clint Hurdle ’

Rockies Apodaca asked to be reassigned, MLB.com has learned

DENVER — Rockies pitching coach Bob Apodaca has asked to be reassigned and the club granted him the request on Tuesday, MLB.com has learned.

The Rockies have yet to make a formal announcement. Sources with knowledge of the situation said Apodaca, pitching coach since 2003 — the first full year that Clint Hurdle managed the Rockies — made the request. Apodaca, 63, has yet to address the situation.

Apodaca, who remained the Rockies’ pitching coach after Jim Tracy took over during the 2009 season, was in street clothes in the Rockies’ coaching office while bullpen coach Jim Wright oversaw Juan Nicasio facing hitters at Coors Field. Nicasio is coming back from a strained left knee.

The Rockies rank last in baseball with a 5.29 ERA and the team is 28-44. Since last week, the club has gone to an unusual four-man pitching rotation under which starters are limited to 75 pitches. It’s an idea that has been discussed for several years at several points by the front office. Extreme difficulty pitching at home and short, ineffective work by the starters, brought about the implementation of the idea a week ago in Philadelphia.

Results have been mixed. Jeff Francis has had two strong starts in victories, but Alex White has pitched himself to a demotion to Triple-A Colorado Springs, Christian Friedrich (who was to start Tuesday night against the Nationals) lost Friday against Texas in his first start under the new system, and Josh Outman couldn’t make it through five innings despite being given an early 10-run lead in the team’s win at Texas on Saturday.

Currently, there are three injured starting pitchers – lefty Jorge De La Rosa, who underwent Tommy John elbow surgery last year; righty Jhoulys Chacin, who struggled before a nerve issue in his chest was discovered, and Nicasio. Additionally, right-hander Jeremy Guthrie was the Opening Day starter but he struggled so much in 11 starts (3-6, 7.20 ERA) that he was moved to the bullpen, where he has pitched well in long relief.

In another surprise move, the Rockies apparently have called up star Double-A lefty Edwar Cabrera, who had earned an invitation to the Sirius XM Futures game during All-Star weekend and last year led all of Minor League Baseball with 174 strikeouts. Cabrera is in line to start Wednesday against the Nationals.

Under Apodaca, the Rockies went to the World Series in 2007, had five 10-game winners in 2009 for the first time in club history and set club ERA marks in 2007 (4.32) and 2010 (4.22). The team has struggled on and off trying to find a way to thrive at hitter-friendly Coors Field. Since 2002, the baseballs have been stored in an atmosphere-controlled chamber to keep them from shrinking and becoming slippery in the mile-high atmosphere.

Apodaca previously served as pitching coach with the Mets and the Brewers.

More to come on MLB.com.

Crazy weather leads to postponement

Turns out Rockies right-hander Jhoulys Chacin’s mother was right about Denver’s unpredictable weather.

After Denver reached a record-high 84 degrees on Saturday, a rain-snow mix hit on Sunday and forced the final game of the season-opening series with the D-backs. No makeup date was immediately announced.

Chacin was supposed to make his first start of the season, against the D-backs’ Joe Saunders. Chacin invited his parents from Venezuela, but said his mother put off the trip until at least May because she doesn’t like bad weather.

The teams took batting practice in cold wind. By the time the postponement was announced it was rain and snow. Within minutes after announcement, it was simply snow.

Chacin, instead, will start Tuesday against the Dodgers. Righty Jason Hammel will start Wednesday in the second game of the two-game set at Coors.

Right-hander Esmil Rogers, who won the fifth starter spot in Spring Training, will start on Thursday at Pittsburgh in the Pirates’ home opener, and the first home game for current Bucs skipper and former Rockies manger Clint Hurdle. Ubaldo Jimenez, who is battling a cut cuticle on his right (pitching) thumb, is scheduled for Friday. Jorge De La Rosa, who left his first start of the season on Saturday with a blistered left middle finger, will start Saturday at Pittsburgh.

According to the Rockies, tickets from Sunday’s game are valid for the makeup, whenever it is scheduled. Exchanges may be made for any game the remainder of the season, value-for-value, as long as the exchange is made before the makeup date. There are no cash refunds.

Ticket exchanges will be accepted at Coors Field Ticket Office and all Rockies Dugout Stores.

Complimentary tickets have a value of zero dollars and may not be exchanged, and discounted tickets may be exchanged only for the amount paid to the Rockies and are subject to any constraints applicable to the original sale.

For more information, call (303) ROCKIES.

Rockies hot stove is on simmer

The general managers meetings in Florida offer a good time for teams to survey the free-agent landscape. And according to the Denver Post, things are about as expected with left-hander Jorge De La Rosa, a player the Rockies want to keep. Interest is strong: former Rockies manager Clint Hurdle has taken over the Pirates and identified De La Rosa as his top target, according to the newspaper, and the Nationals, as reported by MLB.com’s Bill Ladson last week, and Orioles are already in the mix. The Yankees and Rangers could jump in, depending on what happens with lefty Cliff Lee. The paper says the key, as has been the case all along, is if the offers are at three years, the Rockies will compete — and they offer an environment in which De La Rosa has been successful. If it goes beyond three years, De La Rosa is likely gone, and the Rockies could look for a free agent such as Carl Pavano or Javier Vazquez, or seek a trade.

The paper also reported that the Rockies are unlikely to re-sign right-handed hitting utility man Melvin Mora, who wants a contract quicker than the Rockies want to move on him. With the Athletics not looking to trade Conor Jackson, the Rockies could take a look at the Nationals’ Josh Willingham or the Angels’ Mike Napoli for right-handed hitting help.

 

Matt Belisle: Rag ball king

Rockies manager Jim Tracy presents Matt Belisle as Rag Ball King.jpgAs early as tee ball, coaches learn quickly that it’s a lot easier to teach when the drills are fun. It’s no different teaching the children-at-heart in the Majors.

So the Rockies have this drill to help pitchers develop their fielding that they call “rag ball smash.” A coach hits one-hoppers or line drives hard at a pitcher from close range. To keep from filling the disabled list, soft-cover balls are used.

Each day, they keep score, talk trash and generally laugh as they work. But manager Jim Tracy pointed out recently that a number of big fielding plays by pitchers last season were attributable to the reactions developed in the drill.

“You see a ball coming off the bat like that and you have to react to it,” Tracy said. “Obviously, it’s not a hard ball. But how many of those in-between-type comebackers have you seen where a guy flinches.

“How many two-out, man-on-second-base groundball base hits through the middle did we save last year? How many of those cases could have been a game-changing hit?”

Tracy brought the drill to the Rockies last season, when he helped organize Spring Training as bench coach under then-manager Clint Hurdle. Just before games began, he organized a tournament that right-handed prospect Jhoulys Chacin won. The team also includes clubhouse staff in the event. It’s a rollicking good time.

It was a great time for righty reliever Matt Belisle, who won this year’s championship — and took home the purple robe with $20 bills totaling $200 pinned to it — by catching 15 smashes in a row in the final. Lefty reliever Franklin Morales finished second by catching 13.

Belisle was all smiles.

“I think we have made it fun, and all the guys pretty much agree it does help,” Belisle said. “The genius is to incorporate some competition. That’s where we all come together and enjoy it.”

It would have been nice for Belisle to have been able to wear the championship robe to, say, dinner in Tucson. But after seeing him don it on the field, someone decided that it wouldn’t have been a good fashion statement for him to wear it anywhere else.

“I don’t know where my robe is,” he said. “That’s a good question.

“But I got the money, and I’m going to go find the robe.”

Moments worth framing

The Rockies honored first baseman Todd Helton on Monday for achieving his 2,000th career hit on the road at Atlanta. The club played a tribute of his various milestone hits, including his home run against the Dodgers in 2007 that seemed to make the Rockies believe that their late-season playoff run was possible.

With owners Charlie and Dick Monfort, club president Keli McGregor, general manager Dan O’Dowd and manager Clint Hurdle at his side, Helton received a framed presentation. It consisted of photos of his swing at various points of his career, and the Denver Post article the day after he reached the milestone.

Morales healthy, but needs work

First of all, no lineup blog tonight. I had other duties, so the game with the Braves is under way. There is a story on the site on the big lineup move, with shortstop Troy Tulowitzki being punished for an at-bat approach that manager Clint Hurdle didn’t like at all. It’s more than a story about one guy. It has to do with Hurdle’s attempt to refocus the club.

Anyhow, lefty Franklin Morales, still on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, threw a simulated game at Turner Field on Wednesday. he was healthy and threw all his pitches. He was wild, and at times scary for the hitters who faced him, Yorvit Torrealba, Omar Quintanilla, Seth Smith, Dexter Fowler and Matt Murton.

Morales said he’ll throw another bullpen session, and Hurdle said the club is looking for another simulated game for Morales before he begins a Minor League rehab assignment.

Also, lefty Greg Smith, who is recovering from shoulder problems that set in late in Spring Training, will pitch at Triple-A Colorado Springs on Sunday, after throwing twice at Class-A Modesto. Righty reliever Ryan Speier, who suffered a left hamstring strain in April, will move from Modesto to Double-A Tulsa. Speier could appear Wednesday night. 

Helton takes a rest on the edge of 2,000

Rockies first baseman Todd Helton had started all but three of the team’s first 35 games this season. So he took a well-deserve rest on Sunday.

Helton is presumably available for pinch-hit and defensive duty, so there’s a chance he’ll get the one hit he needs to each 2,000 for his career. But manager Clint Hurdle kept him out of the starting lineup.

Hurdle, Helton and the training staff stay in constant contact about how Helton feels, since he underwent back surgery at the end of last season. After a long streak in the lineup, Helton felt the need to step back on Sunday.

“You need to give him some breaks, and this is one he is embracing, because he has been full-throttle for a large volume of games,” Hurdle said.

Hurdle took his three games off during the early days of the season. But given the caution the team is taking, no one expected Helton to have played so much at this point.

“I’d say pleasantly surprised, but I hate to use the word surprised when it comes to Todd because he’s capable of so much with his mindset, his determination, his resiliency,” Hurdle said. “He’s playing more than I anticipated him being able to play and he’s playing at a high level.”

Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is batting third for the first time in his career, Garrett Atkins, after a hard work day Saturday to improve his hitting, is playing first base, and Dexter Fowler, who is having strikeout issues from the right side, is on the bench.

Rockies

CF Ryan Spilborghs

2B Clint Barmes

SS Troy Tulowitzki

RF Brad Hawpe

LF Matt Murton

1B Garrett Atkins

C Yorvit Torrealba

3B Ian Stewart

P Ubaldo Jimenez

Pirates

RF Delwyn Young

2B Freddy Sanchez

CF Nate McLouth

1B Adam LaRoche

C Robinzon Diaz

LF Brandon Moss

3B Andy LaRoche

SS Jack Wilson

P Zach Duke

Atkins becomes spot player

Rockies manager Clint Hurdle insisted that he’s not going to bury third baseman Garrett Atkins. But Saturday’s decision to start Ian Stewart at third base, on the heels of Stewart’s pinch-hitting for Atkins in the ninth inning Friday night, is a signal that Atkins’ playing time will be cut as he tries to work through a season-long slump.

“I’ve tried to find different ways to catch a fuse for him, and yesterday it was putting him in the cleanup spot based on a matchup and faith,” Hurdle said. “I had a nice conversation with him today, a very engaging and challenging conversation about what we’re going to do together, what we need to do for him, what he needs to do for himself to get him back in a spot in the lineup we’d like to have him in.

“But right now we’ve got to go out there the best way we can to win a ballgame. He understands that. I told him I’m not going to ice him, but I’m going to get him involved when I think it’s the right fit.”

This is a personal project for Hurdle, because the Rockies’ hitting coach, Don Baylor, is not with the club. According to Jack Etkin of insidetherockies.com, Baylor is being treated for pneumonia at a Denver-area hospital. 

Hurdle said the Rockies have tried everything, including the old, forget everything and just hit, approach. That didn’t work, so Hurdle is offering specific moves to help Atkins regain form and confidence.

Here are Saturday night’s lineups:

Rockies

Dexter Fowler                CF

Troy Tulowitzki               SS

Todd Helton                   1B

Brad Hawpe                   RF

Ryan Spilborghs             LF

Ian Stewart                    3B

Chris Iannetta                 C

Clint Barmes                 2B

Aaron Cook                    P

Pirates

Delwyn Young                RF

Freddy Sanchez             2B

Nate McLouth                CF

Adam LaRoche              1B

Brandon Moss                LF

Andy LaRoche                3B

Jason Jarmillo                  C

Jack Wilso                     SS

Ian Snell                          P

Go Pens! … Nothing wrong with Barmes

As I write, the Penguins are up on the Capitals, 4-0, in the second period of Game 7. How cool.

Good comment on yesterday’s blog: infielder Clint Barmes has been notably absent from the starting lineup, and he isn’t starting tonight, either. It would make some sense to have him at second as another left-handed bat against Astros lefty Mike Hampton. Plus, Barmes hasn’t been in the lineup since Friday, when he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts against the Marlins.

Checked with Barmes today. He’s not injured and says he’s ready to play when needed.

A few factors keep Barmes out of the lineup:

– The Rockies are giving third baseman Garrett Atkins more time to overcome his almost season-long hitting slump. Manager Clint Hurdle said he gives a younger player abotu 100 at-bats and a player of Atkins’ experience about 150 at-bats to find his form.

– Stewart hit two home runs last night agianst the Astros. He also has a history of hitting lefties well.

“I want to see him against this left-hander, Mike [Hampton],” Hurdle said. “We know him a little bit, not that ‘Stew’ does. Just watching tape and historically, Mike gets outs. There’s no doubt he can get people out. His walks-to-strikeouts ratio is better against left-handers but the batting average is pretty similar, .284 to .281.

“‘Stew’ still has a pretty good history of hitting left-handed pitching. [Thursday starter Wandy] Rodriguez could present more of a challenge. He’s just off to a tremendous start this year, overall and especially against left-handed hitters. And I want to play off the momentum he was able to create and bring to the table yesterday.”

Here are both lineups:

Astros

Kazuo Matsui            2B

Michael Bourn           CF

Lance Berkman         1B

Carlos Lee                 LF

Miguel Tejada            SS

Hunter Pence            RF

Geoff Blum                3B

Humberto Quintero      C

Mike Hampton            P

Rockies

Dexter Fowler           CF

Troy Tulowitzki         SS

Todd Helton              1B

Ryan Spilborghs        LF

Brad Hawpe              RF

Garrett Atkins           3B

Chris Iannetta             C

Ian Stewart                2B

Jason Marquis             P

No hot seat, but still …

I’ve been asked on a number of radio shows recently about the jobsecurity of Rockies manager Clint Hurdle. It’s logical. After all, the D-backs fired Bob Melvin, and that team had a slightly better record than the Rockies. I said all along that it’s not the Rockies’ style to make such a quick change. None of my sources have said anything different. If there was heat, it was from the outside. A story in the Denver Post today confirms; ownership isn’t looking to make the big change.

Anyhow, here’s the issue: they’ve got to score to win. The Rockies’ pitching was supposed to be weak, yet the staff leads the National league with a 2.81 ERA in May. Their May record is 4-6 going into Tuesday night’s game against the Astros at Coors Field.

hHit and everyone stays employed. Or at least that’s the way it seems to me.

Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki will do his part tonight. The pain from the quadriceps strain he suffered Sunday is manageable, so he’s in the lineup. 

Here are tonight’s lineups:

Astros

Kazuo Matsui                   2B

Michael Bourn                  CF

Lance Berkman                1B

Carlos Lee                        LF

Miguel Tejada                   SS

Hunter Pence                   RF

Geoff Blum                       3B

Ivan Rodriguez                   C

Felipe Paulino                   P

Rockies

Dexter Fowler                  CF

Troy Tulowitzki                SS

Todd Helton                    1B

Brad Hawpe                    RF

Garrett Atkins                 3B

Seth Smith                     LF

Chris Iannetta                   C

Ian Stewart                     3B

Ubaldo Jimenez                P

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