Results tagged ‘ Dan O'Dowd ’

O’Dowd says Rockies interested in Francis

The Rockies are pursuing left-handed pitcher Jeff Francis, their ace during their National League championship season of 2007.

“We are interested; I have no idea of the outcome of that interest,” Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd said Monday morning.

Francis, 31, was pitching for the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate in Louisville, and was 3-6 with a 3.72 ERA in 77 1/3 innings over 12 starts. Francis, who struck out 65 against 18 walks, had a June 1 opt-out clause in his Minor League contract. After throwing a complete-game shutout on Sunday, 7-0 over Durham, Francis asked for his release, according to a Twitter dispatch by ESPN.com reporter Jerry Crasnick.

The Rockies made Francis their No. 1 Draft choice out of the University of British Columbia in 2002, and he went 55-50 with them in six Major League season. The highlight was 2007,when he went 17-9 with a 4.22 ERA. However his career was derailed by shoulder issues, which cost him the entire 2009 season and limited him to 4-6 with a 5.00 ERA in 20 games, all but one of them starts, in 2010.

The Rockies did not pick up the option on Francis’ contract, and he went 6-16 with a 4.82 ERA in 31 starts for the Royals last season.

Francis has maintained a home in the Denver area.

Injuries are affecting the Rockies’ rotation. Righty Jhoulys Chacin has not pitched since May 1 because of an injury to a chest muscle, and didn’t do any throwing until Saturday. Righty Juan Nicasio suffered a strained right knee on Saturday and is on the 15-day disabled list. Also, the club released lefty Jamie Moyer last week.<p/>

 

The Rockies are stretching out left-hander Josh Outman, who began the year mostly in a specialist relief role, for one spot. They called up right-hander Guillermo Moscoso from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Sunday for another slot.

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.

Root Sports announces Spring Training schedule

Root Sports Rocky Mountain has released its Spring Training schedule of game telecasts and other programming. Here is the press release:

ROOT SPORTS will televise six spring training games live this season, the network announced today. Coverage begins on March 17, as the Colorado Rockies take on the LA Dodgers at 2 p.m. MT live from Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The Rockies will face the Mariners, Dodgers, Reds and Diamondbacks on ROOT SPORTS during spring training. All games are slated to start at 2 p.m. MT.

ROOT SPORTS will also debut a trio of new programming. On February 17 at 8 p.m. MT, sit with General Manager Dan O’Dowd and the Rockies staff as they plot the team’s offseason trades on the Rockies Winter Meetings Show. The premiere of Rockies All Access begins on March 17 at 5 p.m. with the 2012 Rockies Commercial Show, which gives behind-the-scenes access to the making of the latest Rockies commercials. The skipper also gives us a preview of who will take the field on Opening Day on Rockies Weekly with Jim Tracy (March 25 at 5 p.m.).

 

2012 Rockies Spring Training Telecast Schedule

All times listed are Mountain and subject to change

Date                                       Opponent                                   Time

Sat., March 17                   Dodgers                               2 p.m.

Sun., March 18                  at Mariners                           2 p.m.

Sun., March 25 Reds 2 p.m.

Tue., March 27                  at Diamondbacks                   2 p.m.

 

Mon., April 2 at Mariners 2 p.m.

Tue., April 3 Marines 2 p.m.

Rox still combing free agent list for starter

According to the Denver Post this week, the Rockies and right-handed pitcher Kevin Millwood have not progressed much this offseason. While the Rockies have added a pitcher with some experience in Kevin Slowey, obtained from the Twins during the Winter Meetings, general manager Dan O’Dowd has not given up on adding a veteran arm at an affortable price for the club. Attempts to trade for such a pitcher have been fruitless.

“We are trying to create depth and competition in our rotation, so we’re looking at all free agents,” O’Dowd said Wednesday evening. “We don’t see a trade on the horizon.”

The Rockies have one spot available on the 40-man Major League roster, so they can sign a pitcher to a Major League contract if they choose to do so.

In other developments:

– The Rockies also haven’t found a trading partner as they try to maximize what they can get for arbitration-eligible, left-handed hitting outfielder Seth Smith, who was displaced when Michael Cuddyer signed as a free agent.

– Second baseman Russell Wilson, better known as Wisconsin’s Rose Bowl quarterback, told the New York Times that he intends to pursue professional football. Wilson, chosen 140th overall in the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft, hit .228 at Class-A Asheville last year.

 

Blake reaches agreemernt with Rockies

Veteran third baseman and utility man Casey Blake has agreed to terms on a one-year contract, Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd announced Tuesday, during outfielder Michael Cuddyer’s introductory press conference at Coors Field.

Blake, 38, appeared in just 63 games for the Dodgers last season (.252, 4 HR, 26 RBIs) because of various injuries — a back problem, an elbow infection and a neck nerve issue that led to surgery. O’Dowd said Blake checked out medically, but the contract will not become official until Blake passes a physical. The physical is not likely to occur until after the holidays.

“We think we added a culture-changer, just like we added in Michael Cuddyer,” O’Dowd said.

The contract calls for a non-guaranteed base salary of $2 million, with another $1 million available in performance bonuses.

Over 13 seasons with the Blue Jays, Twins, Orioles, Indians and Dodgers, Blake has hit .264 with 167 home runs and 616 RBIs.

A busy Rockies weekend

Enjoying time off near the Thanksgiving holiday, but I thought I’d take a few minutes to comment on some news items involving the Rockies:

– Two free agent targets appear headed elsewhere, with outfielder Grady Sizemore reportedly having reached an agreement with the Indians and onetime Rockies infielder Clint Barmes reportedly headed to Pittsburgh to rejoin his old Rox manager, Clint Hurdle.

The Sizemore situation was a race against time. Signing him was somewhat predicated on trading left fielder Seth Smith. The plan to trade Smith was to fill the second base hole or one of the starting pitching holes. Although there have been stories about talks with the Braves about infielder Martin Prado and the Rockies have been debating trying to pry former Gold Glove second baseman Orlando Hudson from the Padres, not much in the way of real negotiation had materialized.

But with all the health reports on Sizemore positive after a postseason knee surgery (he had surgery on the other knee in 2009), teams decided to move quickly. The team that knows him the best, the Indians, figured the price was right and made the move.

The Rockies see Smith as an asset, so it’s not as if they’re dying to trade him. They’d deal him, but not in a trade that they aren’t totally comfortable making. To trade Smith now, the Rockies need a viable alternative in left, whether that player comes in the same trade or the Rockies end up with a left fielder through other means. Or they can just keep Smith.

“We like Seth Smith — he’s a good player for us,” Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd told me the other day.

Barmes would have made a lot of sense. He played shortstop last year for the Astros, and will do so for the Pirates. If the Rockies could have signed him, he would have offered a high-quality replacement if Troy Tulowitzki were to be injured.

If the Rox don’t find a second baseman, some combination of Jonathan Herrera, Chris Nelson and Eric Young Jr. would have to suffice at second. Both have experience at short, and can move over in case of injury to Tulowitzki.

Since Tulowitzki is a big shortstop who never takes it easy, it would be nice to have someone of Barmes’ ability to plug into the position. It would give manager Jim Tracy peace of mind when he wants to rest Tulowitzki during the season.

It’s a concern, but the Rockies aren’t going to build their offseason strategy around protecting themselves from a longterm injury to Tulowitzki. Replacing him for a few days for a nagging injury is one thing. A long absence is something else.

“If we lost Tulowitzki for a long period of time, we’re in trouble,” O’Dowd said. “I don’t know of many teams that can withstand losing their best player for a long period of time.”

– The Rockies dealt veteran utility man Ty Wigginton to the Phillies on Sunday for a player to be named.

While it’s nice to have a vet to come off the bench, the Rockies might be covered with a younger player. They liked the offensive work of late-season call-up Jordan Pacheco, and Tracy used Pacheco at first base and third base — essentially the same way he used Wigginton.

Keep an eye on Rockies pitching, Barmes discussions could occur today

As MLB.com reported last week and as the Denver Post reported last night, the Rockies’ wide-ranging search for an innings-eating starting pitcher, or two, includes standout free-agent right-hander Roy Oswalt (4-0, 2.25 ERA in five career starts at Coors Field).

The Post reported that the Rockies won’t trade for the Astros’ Wandy Rodriguez, who want quite a bit in return. But just about any young, accomplished starter is on the radar — the Marlins’ Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez, and the Rays’ Jeff Neimann and Wade Davis. All have been Rockies targets before. The Rockies are interested in their one-time No. 1 pitcher Jeff Francis and Kevin Millwood, who finished last season in purple pinstripes, as well as, according to the Post, Paul Maholm.

The Rockies are dangling left fielder Seth Smith in trade talks for either a pitcher or a second baseman, or both. That helps explain the pursuit of Grady Sizemore, who is recovering from right knee surgery but, according to his agent, will be ready to start Spring Training and to start the season.

If they don’t make a trade at the keystone position, they could look to the past and pursue Clint Barmes, who played for the Astros last season but had spent all is previous seasons with the Rockies. Barry Meister, Barmes’ agent, will arrive at the MLB General Managers meetings in Milwaukee today. Although there have been internal discussions about Barmes — who is attractive to the Rockies because he can move to shortstop if Troy Tulowitzki needs a break or is banged up — there had not been negotiations as of yesterday. Barmes is receiving interest at a shortstop and a second baseman, and is open to playing each spot.

Potential trade targets are the Braves’ Martin Prado and the Padres’ Orlando Hudson, with the Rockies already having had discussions with the Braves.

In the coming weeks, watch for the Rockies to seriously explore dealing right-handed reliever Huston Street, who is guaranteed $8 million next year. Rafael Betancourt ended up supplanting Street as closer late in the regular season.

Monday’s Spring Training notes

It’s a time for excitement, but also a time for caution

 

Welcome to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Players are raving about the place. Reliever Huston Street told me before he arrived that he expected Monday to be “Christmas in February.” Well, after being there, stretching, tossing a football around, lifting weights, tossing the medicine ball and just walking around, he thought it was something more.

 

“It’s way more than that … I don’t know what this is,” Street said. “This is unbelievable.”

 

 And, no, Valentine’s Day wasn’t an adequate description.

 

Nonetheless, this is a workplace. Rockies pitching coach Bob Apodaca said his biggest challenge is not convincing players to work in the lap of luxury. It’s not letting them overdo it when pitchers and catchers begin official workouts on Tuesday afternoon.

 

Last spring, key relievers Huston Street and Rafael Betancourt suffered shoulder injuries early in camp. Street’s was because, in hoping to reach a new level, he wanted to throw with regular-season intensity from the first day. Betancourt’s injury occurred because he suffered an illness during the offseason and didn’t figure out what his arm was capable of until pain overtook him. Add to that left-handed starter Jeff Francis’ shoulder problems at the end of camp, and last spring was a failure in terms of having pitchers ready for the regular season.

 

That won’t be happening this spring.

 

Apodaca has a message for all his pitchers — one that numerous youth teams and coaches already working for their seasons, with children who don’t yet have facial hair or are getting peach fuzz, need to heed as well.

 

The first time out, and beyond, Rockies pitchers will throw a limited number of fastballs and a few changeups. The fastball is the main pitch they need, anyhow, so why take the risk with breaking stuff?

 

“That’s the first order of business every spring, to repeat the fastball, be comfortable with it,” Apodaca said. “When it goes astray, when I throw a scud, how do I get back to where I want to be?

 

“They can throw some changeups. [Matt] Lindstrom has really been working on his changeup. [Esmil] Rodgers has really been working on his changeup. It’s basically 80 percent fastballs, 20 percent changeups the first couple of times out, we’ll start throwing some breaking pitches. The fourth time, we’re going to bring them back a little bit, because their next time is going to be a batting practice.”

 

Apodaca said he realizes some pitchers have carried a heavier offseason workload than they’ll be asked to perform at the start of camp. But there will be no argument. It’s for the protection of the pitchers.

 

“This is always the most insecure time for me,” Apodaca said.

 

The gang’s almost all here

 

Most of the pitchers and catchers showed up at the complex, played catch and worked in the fitness center. One notably absent hurdler was left-hander Jorge De La Rosa, the No. 2 starter in the rotation. De La Rosa has an offseason home in the Phoenix area, but he went home to Mexico with his family and experienced visa issues trying to make it before Monday.

 

Players from outside the United States routinely experience delays, usually because of the time it takes to process the paperwork.

 

A fond goodbye to the Dominican Republic

 

Rockies right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, who finished third in the National League Cy Young Award voting last year, flew from the Dominican Republic to Phoenix on Friday, but not before leaving (in Spanish) a message to his country on a personal social media site. Here’s a translation:

 

“Goodbye my beloved land and my people, we are going to fight, God willing, with all our strength for the triumphs, we won’t be able to win every single time but sometimes you win by losing, so I hope you follow all of us Dominicans and send us a lot of blessings our way, I always carry my homeland in my heart and in my mind and I hope I can keep on making you feel proud.”

 

‘Tulo’ simply couldn’t wait

 

Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has been itching to play ever since signing his new, seven-year extension (which last through 2020) not long after last season ended. On Monday, he arranged to meet general manager Dan O’Dowd at the complex at 8 a.m.

By 7 a.m., Tulowitzki texted O’Dowd saying he had eaten breakfast and was already en route to the park.

 

“I was definitely anxious to get here – a new facility,” Tulowitzki said. “I woke up early, had that itch, wanted to get to the field, see all the fields, see the new locker room. Wow. Special facility. I’m glad I’m getting to enjoy it for a long time.”

 

The first full-squad workout is not until next Tuesday.

 

 

Lance Berkman a possible Rox target

Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd has said it’s doubtful he can land a big bat, but he’s trying. According to The Denver Post, the Rockies have aggressively pursued switch-hitting Lance Berkman to play the outfield corners and occasionally spell Todd Helton at first base.

The key here would be Berkman’s desire to return to the National League. Berkman saw a dramatic drop in his power with the Astros and Yankees last season, although finished he year with the Yankees as a designated hitter on an upswing as far as average is concerned.

An important aspect of the pursuit of Berkman, according to the Post, is Helton would be on board with bringing in Berkman. The two have the same agent. Helton helped the Rockies recruit Jason Giambi as his backup last season, but by season’s end Helton admitted not playing nearly every game was difficult. Still, the Rockies need a solid alternative, given Helton’s history of back problems and his age.

The Rockies desire a right-handed corner bat, preferably one that can play some first base. Berkman has more power from the left than from the right, but he fits — if the price is right. The Cardinals, Blue Jays and Athletics also have pursued Berkman.

The Mariners’ Jose Lopez, if he’s non-tendered, Jorge Cantu, whom the Rockies considered trading for last season, and Troy Glaus are acknowledged targets. The Rockies also are looking at the Athletics, who appear to be deciding whether to non-tender Edwin Encarnacion or Colorado native Kevin Kouzmanoff.

Some current Rockies will no doubt be watching the situation closely. Third baseman Ian Stewart and outfielders Seth Smith and Ryan Spilborghs could potentially lose playing time, depending on who is signed. Interestingly, the Rockies hired Carney Lansford as hitting coach and charged him with the task of waking up the bats of all three. Stewart and Smith didn’t meet the club’s expectations for production last year. Spilborghs finished strong but struggled with strikeouts early.

– Thomas Harding

Rockies still deciding on Olivo

Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd said he will take until Thursday’s deadline before deciding whether to pick up catcher Miguel Olivo’s $2.5 million option for 2011. Even if he decides, the Rockies still have to determine whether Olivo, Chris Iannetta or a combination of both are solid enough to handle catching duties. Do the Rockies seek a trade or free agency? That’s one of this winter’s big questions.

The Rockies will not pick up left-hander Jeff Francis’ $7 million option for 2011. Three years of shoulder problems makes it too risky, but O’Dowd says he wants Francis back.

It should be an interesting free agency season. The big question is whether the Rockies can retain lefty Jorge De La Rosa, who could have numerous bidders.

 

My thoughts? If the bidders stay in the three-year range, the Rockies can compete. If someone goes overboard on years, the Rockies will wish him well.

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