Results tagged ‘ Greg Smith ’

A good stopping point …

— Saturday’s no-hitter by Ubaldo Jimenez against the Braves was the obvious high point, but Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the Braves is a better illustration of where the Rockies stand. They didn’t do enough to win. Sometimes when this happens, they win, anyhow. Sunday, they didn’t.

Five hits from an offense that has been sporadic and 11 walks from pitching that has generally performed well were a recipe for disaster. Yet, the Rockies didn’t give the game away until closer Franklin Morales couldn’t throw strikes consistently in the ninth inning.

Sometimes things go wrong and they win. Sunday, many things went wrong and they almost won. Manager Jim Tracy has been noting all weekend that he ability to stay in or pull out games while not necessarily playing well is encouraging, since it means the club is capable of catching fire.

— The power and situational hitting have come and gone. The team hasn’t been consistently effective on the bases. Errors defensively have been a concern. Which area will begin to perform better first?

I believe the defense has become better. And defense is the one area that can turn hot and not cool. The Rockies made all the plays necessary behind Jimenez during the no-hitter, and performed well Sunday. Not making mistakes makes a team solid, and the Rockies are headed in that direction. The difference between solid and spectacular is taking advantage of chances the be spectacular, the way Dexter Fowler made plays behind Jimenez and the way Carlos Gonzalez did Sunday in throwing out Melky Cabrera at the plate from right field.

Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has made some highlight reel plays, but in other cases he’s almost made them. That should change. I also believe third baseman Ian Stewart, who has had some questionable throws, needs one or two eye-popping plays to settle him and make him more consistently.

— It may be too soon but I don’t think I’m out of line for wondering … How would the lineup perform with Stewart, a power threat, in the No. 3 position, and first Todd Helton in the No. 7 hole?

— I like the way right fielder Brad Hawpe has swung the bat. I also like the way the team is monitoring his playing time. For me, it comes to this unscientific explanation: Hawpe is a big, strong fellow whose body type may be more suited for first base than the outfield. His recent quadriceps injury occurred after a swing, but the place to watch him is in the outfield, especially when he has a lot of activity. Nagging aches are unavoidable, but keep them under control and he’ll produce from April to September. This is an underrated star. 

— Although Morales has had a rough patch, I like he way the bullpen has performed. It it can maintain some consistency, imagine how much stronger it should be when right-handers Huston Street and Taylor Buchholz return.

— The rotation has been solid. Three keys could take it beyond that. 1. Jason Hammel must find some consistency. It’s early, so it’s not time to panic. 2. Greg Smith has shown a capacity to make the pitch he needs to keep situations from becoming messy, but he’ll be better if he can throw well-located strikes early in counts. 3. Aaron Cook hasn’t found his sinker. I was left intrigued by his last outing, when he relied on breaking balls and gave the team a chance to win against the Mets. Will he reach a stage where he’ll dominate with the sinker for a number of outings in a row, or will a good percentage of his outings be ones where he has to be creative?

Hey, folks, these are more Monday morning thoughts, not super observations. Where do you think the Rockies are, and how can they be better?

Francis headed to disabled list

The Rockies will place starter Jeff Francis on the disabled list due to
left shoulder stiffness after the southpaw could not play catch Friday
following an outing in a Cactus League game on Thursday.

Greg Smith, acquired prior to the 2009 season in the deal that sent Matt Holliday to the Oakland Athletics, will take Francis’ spot in the rotation and start the second game of the regular season on Tuesday in Milwaukee.

Redding sent to Colorado Springs

Rockies veteran non-roster right-hander Tim Redding said he’s been congratulating left-hander Greg Smith for the last several days.

Of course, no one has told Smith he has made the Opening Day roster in the last bullpen spot. But Redding, a competitor for that spot, learned in a meeting with manager Jim Tracy on Wednesday afternoon that the Rockies are assigning him to Triple-A Colorado Springs.

Redding can leave only if another team invites him to be on its Major League roster on April 3.

“I’ve got to get my stuff sharper,” he said. “I had 12 innings in camp this year, not a lot of time in the box. The only way a pitcher gets better is the more hitters he sees, the more he knows what his pitches are doing and what he can do with them.

“I’m stuck in the middle of everything. I don’t have the feel for anything. I don’t have the location like I should. Bullpens are different from games.”

Redding said the Rockies have not established whether he will be a starter or a reliever. Redding has been a starter much of his career, but there wasn’t a role for him with the Rockies because all five rotation members are healthy and productive.

Redding said the Rockies told him “go get guys out, show that I can get guys out like they know I can.”

Of Smith, Redding said, “If the player who won the job is who I think he is, I am ecstatic for him. He’s earned it.

“I’ve goofed around with him the last two days and told him, ‘Congratulations,’ and he doesn’t know why,” said Redding, who said the Rockies asked him to continue to exhibit a professional example for younger pitchers when he joins the Sky Sox. “But I’ve seen the writing on the wall from about two weeks ago.

“I’m just continually trying to go out there, feel my stuff and get guys out. That’s what they want me to do down there. Regardless what role I’m in, how many innings I get, what the position is, I’ll get a call when the chance comes up.”

Redding said he will go with the club for exhibition games in Albuquerque, N.M., Friday and Saturday.

Smith endures on Minor League fields

Rockies left-hander Greg Smith has fashioned a 1.93 ERA in Cactus League play. He’ll have to be happy Wednesday’s performance in a Minor League game doesn’t count.

Facing a Triple-A D-backs squad, Smith gave up11 hits and six runs in fie innings. He struck out four, didn’t walk any and hit a batter. He threw 77 pitches.

With the Rockie’s rotation full, Smith is expected to begin the year at Triple-A Colorado Springs.

Smith has solid numbers, but work to do

Rockies left-hander Greg Smith’s presence means the Rockies have starting rotation depth. His performance in Cactus League play has been far better than one would expect from a depth guy.


Smith held the Athletics to one run and three hits in five innings of Friday’s 10-4 Rockies victory. He also struck out six, and had his third successful pickoff of the spring.


Still, it would take some misfortune on someone’s behalf for him to make the team to start the season, since the Rockies have five starters.


Since Smith underwent elbow surgery after a promising rookie season with the Athletics in 2008 and didn’t pitch in the Majors last year because of shoulder and back ailments, he isn’t being considered for bullpen duty. That means he most likely will begin the year at Triple-A Colorado Springs.


“They haven’t said a word to me, so my next step is work out tomorrow,” Smith said. “I’m whatever they tell me, whenever they tell me.”


Rather than be concerned about that, Smith is trying to continue his development. On Friday, he was behind in the count more than manager Jim Tracy would have liked, and didn’t spot his pitches to his glove side the way he wanted. He also was kicking himself for not successfully placing a bunt in his second at-bat.


Nonetheless, Smith’s 1.93 ERA matches the sparkling ones posted by confirmed rotation members Jorge De La Rosa and Jason Hammel.


“I wish it was a year earlier,” said Smith, who barely participated in Spring Training because of the flu and shoulder tightness. “But you learn a couple things being hurt. You learn what you should have done, what you should do, what to fix. This year was all about being healthy. I think I’ve made that step.”


Tracy said Smith was passable, but could be better.


“‘Smitty’ got ’em out but he got them out dealing with a lot of hitter’s counts,” Tracy said. “He seems to be one of those types of craftsmen where he seems to always have one more pitch.


“Yet, I know that from an effectiveness standpoint, it will be difficult for him to go out there and pitch every fifth day, and pitch from behind.”


— Right-hander Tim Redding gave up two runs on three hits, including a triple and a double, in his one inning. Redding had competed for the rotation, but it was his first appearance after being converted to bullpen duty.


Tracy said part of it was just getting used to a new role. Redding attacked hitters well but didn’t locate payoff pitches.


“He threw his strikes, he got through his inning, and we’ll realize the fact that it was the first time we brought him out of the bullpen, then we’ll see what the follow up is,” Tracy said.


— Righty Manuel Corpas had two outs in his inning, but gave up a Daric Barton home run.


“Corpas was down,” Tracy said. “He did give up the home run to Barton. It was a sinker that didn’t sink enough.


“I wanted to see him get the ball down, and that’s what he did today.”

Cook to face Minor Leaguers Sunday; Smith gets Friday start

Rockies right-hander Aaron Cook’s search for the proper release point on his sinker will take him to the Minor League complex at Hi Corbett Field on Sunday.


Cook will start in a Minor League game, rather than go to Surprise, Ariz., for the game against the Royals. Righty prospect Jhoulys Chacin will start in Cook’s place.


Cook is 0-2 with an 11.42 ERA in three starts. His last two have been particularly bad, with balls either missing the strike zone entirely or left in poor locations. The issue is the ball isn’t leaving his hand at a consistent point.


Cook still will throw the same number of pitches, although the Rockies would like for him to let those carry him for five innings rather than the 2 2/3 and 3 that he pitched his last two times on the mound. But manager Jim Tracy said the setting will better allow Cook to regain the form that has led him to a franchise-high 59 career wins.


“Just put him in what we would consider to be a less-stressful environment,” Tracy said. “Just give him an opportunity to bear down mentally and focus on making pitches.


“It really doesn’t matter as far as I’m concerned as far as who’s standing at home plate with him. We’ve got to get him to the point where we see the sinker going down — the sinker going down in a good spot.”


Tracy also announced that projected Opening Day starter Ubaldo Jimenez will pitch in the Minor League game on Friday, and left-hander Greg Smith will attempt to continue his impressive spring in the game at Hi Corbett Field against the Athletics.


Smith (1-0, 2.00 ERA this spring) was expected to compete for a rotation spot last year, after arriving in a trade with the Athletics, but he pitched a limited number of Minor League innings because of back and shoulder issues. Tracy has scheduled Smith for five innings.


“We know Ubaldo Jimenez is pitching Opening Day,” Tracy said. “There’s nothing else I can tell you. In the case of Greg Smith, we’re talking about a guy who did not compete last year. I want him facing as good a grade of hitters as we can possibly get him up against.”

Greg Smith making glowing second impression

Rockies left-hander Greg Smith had his second head-turning appearance of the spring on Tuesday. He struck out three in three innings of a 12-0 victory over the Dodgers at Glendale, Ariz.

Smith not only is showing he is crafty, with his fastball and changeup — his out pitch on Tuesday. He’s also making strides toward demonstrating that the team can count on him.

Smith was injured and sick last spring, and shoulder and back issues kept him out of the Majors last year. Yes, he was durable with the Athletics in 2008, throwing 191 1/3 innings. But one of his main goals this spring was for the Rockies, who acquired him in the Matt Holliday trade, to see that dependability for themselves.

“I want to erase all that from last year,” Smith said. “Yes, I’m going to throw. You don’t have to worry about, ‘Is he going to make his next two starts.’ Just go ahead and trust the fact that I’m going to be out there.

“I’m trying to get through all that and give them a new impression.”

Manager Jim Tracy was more impressed with Smith on Tuesday than he was Friday, when he threw two scoreless innings against the Angels. Tracy especially liked the changeup.

“He was repeating the pitch and still getting swings and misses,” Tracy said.

The Rockies have five capable starters, plus more-experienced right-hander Tim Redding in camp under a Minor League contract, and Smith can be sent to Triple-A Colorado Springs without being exposed to other teams through waivers. There’s always the possibility that instead of keeping him in Colorado Springs in case of emergency, the Rockies could use Smith out of the bullpen.

Tracy, who knows injuries can happen, isn’t ruling out anything.

“We’ve got to wait and see,” Tracy said. “I’m anxious to see what the sequel is to what we saw today. What does it look like next time? Can he repeat this?”

Long day for Ubaldo

A long and difficult day for Rockies right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez didn’t get any smoother after he arrived at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Friday.

Jimenez was supposed to start against the Angels. He received permission to drive from Tucson, but was caught in a major traffic jam. Part of I-10 near Phoenix was closed because of a major accident involving a bus that killed six early Friday morning. Left-hander Greg Smith started and threw two scoreless innings.

Jimenez struck out the side in a first perfect inning. But in his second frame, he gave up four runs on three singles and two walks.

A happy return to the mound

Rockies left-hander Greg Smith’s return to the mound after not pitching in the Majors last season went much better than lefty Jeff Francis’.

Of course, Francis surrendered four runs and four hits in two innings against the Giants on Friday.

Smith made his return Friday against the Angels and threw two scoreless and hitless innings with two strkeouts and three walks. Smith, who has been a starter but could make the team as a reliever, started Friday. Scheduled starter Ubaldo Jimenez elected to drive to Tempe, but was caught in a major traffic jam and interstate closure, the result of an early morning traffic accident.

Redding provides pitching reinforcement

The Rockies’ signing of right-hander Tim Redding to a Minor League conract with an invitation to Major League camp gives the pitching staff a much-needed veteran reinforcement.

The Rockies go into Spring Training with a rotation already penciled — left-handers Jeff Francis and Jorge De La Rosa, and right-handers Aaron Cook, Ubaldo Jimenez and Jason Hammel. But that apple cart could be upset if Francis needs extra time early in the year, after missing last year because of shoulder surgery, or one of the others is hurt or struggles.

Redding, 32, provides an experienced option. If he pitches well and makes the club, he could fill the role the club envisioned for Jose Contreras, who instead signed with the Phillies. After Redding, the most-experienced option is lefty Greg Smith, who missed last season with various illnesses and ailments. Smith threw 190 1/3 innings as a rookie with the Athletics in 2008.