Results tagged ‘ Huston Street ’

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?

Rox’s Street hopes slowing down speeds recovery

Rockies closer Huston Street hopes slowing down now will speed up his recovery from right shoulder tightness.

 

Street has twice had his throwing program shut down because of continued inflammation and tightness. But Street said Thursday that he believes the plan of action that head athletic trainer Keith Dugger has given him will have him throwing next week without future delays in his return.

 

Street said the inflammation has cause muscles to shut down and weaken. The result is he has felt better at times, but after throwing the tightness has returned.

 

 “We fear if I ramp up the throwing, I’ll keep getting inflamed and it’ll be a long, circular process, so Dugger has me on a program to build it up,” Street said.

 

Street is on a program of exercise using cuff weights and manual exercises from muscles behind the shoulder. Once he has a solid base, he can add intensity at a high range, and return to throwing.

 

Street joined the Rockies in a trade with the Athletics before last season and converted 35-of-37 save opportunities. But he missed much of September with biceps tendinitis, and struggled with further shoulder problems throughout Spring Training. He will begin the season on the disabled list. Lefty Franklin Morales is the first option at closer, although manager Jim Tracy said he will use right-handers for certain matchups.

 

“I’ll start throwing, no set timetable, but I’m hoping by next week,” he said. “And we think because of the strengthening, it’ll move more quickly once I start.

 

“I get impatient and want to throw, but I have to trust them [the Rockies' training and medical personnel]. The got me back healthy last year, and will again this year.”

Notes: Street to throw, but not setting timetable

Right-handed reliever Huston Street will play catch on Friday, but don’t expect any pronouncements about being on the way back from the shoulder tightness that will delay the start of his regular season.

“It’ll be the first time [playing catch] since they shut me down again,” said Street, who progressed far enough to throw a simulated game before his shoulder turned sore again. “I’m not going to jump out there to any conclusions.

“The last time, I was throwing to hitters. I thought I was on the road. So I’m just going to take it one day at a time and just get a little bit better. But we don’t have a [return to the Majors] date in mind. It’s going to happen as soon as we can get out there.”

– The Rockies recently told righty Tim Redding his best chance to make the club would be as a reliever. But the club has moved his next appearance to Saturday, but he’ll start and go four innings in a Minor League game.

“The reasoning I was told was one- and two-inning outings isn’t going to benefit me or the team because the role I’m going to be in is going to require me to throw possibly upwards of four, even five innings or spot-start,” Redding said. “They want to keep my endurance and my pitch count up. It’s always easier to go down than it is to be down and try to go up.”

– Left-hander Joe Beimel joined the Rockies on Tuesday, and manager Jim Tracy and general manager Dan O’Dowd said they didn’t see him being ready for the start of the regular season. Beimel sees it differently. He threw a “live” batting practice session Wednesday, during the Major Leaguers’ day off.

Asked if he took the conservative statements of his bosses as a challenge, Beimel laughed.

“A little bit,” Beimel said. “I know how hard I worked during the offseason. I know how hard I work as a player, what it takes to get ready for a 162-game season. I knew there was a possibility I wasn’t going to sign until late. I wasn’t sitting on the couch eating potato chips.

“I feel outstanding today. Not sore a single bit anywhere. I’m good to go.”

He wants to throw in a game on Saturday.

Bullpen the final big issue of spring

The bullpen race looks to be down to three, possibly four, pitchers for one spot.

Here’s how it looks, barring injury:

– Lefty Franklin Morales should be the closer, since Huston Street is going to begin the year on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation.

– With Morales closing, Randy Flores is the lone lefty in a setup role.

– Righties Rafael Betancourt, as long as his shoulder continues to respond, Matt Daley and Matt Belisle are locks. Belisle is out of options, but that shouldn’t matter. He has not given up a run all spring, and Daley has been perfect since two bad initial outings.

– Tentatively, count righty Manuel Corpas as one. He has been bad at times, but when he keeps the ball down in the zone he has been effective. Plus, manager Jim Tracy is considering him for end-of-the game duty alongside Morales.

All of this means non-roster right-handers Tim Redding, Juan Rincon and Justin Speier are vying for a job. With all of them under Minor League contracts, there is no roster issue forcing the Rockies’ hand.

The X-factor is lefty Joe Beimel, who agreed to a Minor League deal Monday night. General manager Dan O’Dowd said he does not expect Beimel to be ready for the opening of the season.

Redding began the spring as a starter, and is in postition to throw multiple innings.Speier’s forkball has been an effective pitch against right-handers and left-handers, which makes him a candidate to hold a job until Beimel is ready. Rincon, who has a save and a 1.29 ERA and .209 batting average against, has impressed scouts with his location.

Sunday’s game: Another look at Justin Speier

The Rockies are playing the Royals at Surprise, Ariz., Sunday afternoon. Righty prospect Jhoulys Chacin is the starting piutcher, but the key development will come later in the game when righty Justin Speier pitches.

Speier, a non-roster invitee, has built a career on preventing inherited runners from scoring, which is a plus. Where he could make the Rockies team, though, is with his abilty to stop left-handed hitters as well as right-handers.

Over the course of his career, right-handers and left-handers have each batted .240 against him. Things change when he slumps, as evidenced by lefties’ .328 average against him last year before the Angels released him in August. However, he has thrown well for most of his appearances in the Cactus League.

After a clean ninth inning with two strikeouts, and a win, in Saturday’s 11-10 victory over the Angels, Speier will pitch on consecutive days. It’s a major test.

“One thing that you know you’re going to get with Justin is that you’re going to get somebody who’s going to work very, very quick, and is gong to fill up the strike zone,” Speier said. “When he gets in trouble, pitches get too quick and they get very rotational and get flat. They’re in the zone, but they’re in the flat variety.

 

“But when he focuses on each and every pitch, and has total focus on it, he gets better plane on his pitches. He has that forkball that is effective versus lefties and righties. That’s a pitch that nobody else possesses that we have, that type of forkball. Justin is also a guy that we’re not overlooking.”

 

Lefty Randy Flores, who is expected to be one of the bullpen lefties, is throwing a bullpen session Sunday. He has been on lower activity since suffering a bruised left forearam when he was hit with a line drive during Wednesday’s game against the Indians. With Franklin Morales likely to fill in as closer for the injured Huston Street (shoulder stiffness) when the season begins, the Rockies want to pair Flores with another pitcher adept at facing dangerous left-handed batters.

 

Matt Reynolds, who hasn’t pitched above Double-A but is impressing the staff with his tenacity in camp, is getting a long look. But someone like Speier could reduce the pressure to have another lefty, or, if Reynolds makes it, give the Rockies a more experienced option late in games.

 

Apodaca said the plan is to see all the Rockies relievers on consecutive days, although righty setup man Rafael Betancourt, who is coming back from shoulder tightness, and righty Matt Belisle, who has pitched well but has had to deal with forearm tightness after his appearances, might not do back-to-backs this spring.

 

Rox Notes: Matt Reynolds getting long look

Left-hander Matt Reynolds hasn’t pitched above Double-A Tulsa, but he has a 2.65 ERA since being drafted in the 20th round out of Austin Peay in 2007 and is coming off a strong performance in the 2009 Arizona Fall League.

Now he’s squarely on the big-league radar.

Left-hander Franklin Morales is expected to be the closer, which means the Rockies will need another lefty alongside Randy Flores, who appears OK after taking a line drive off his left forearm on Wednesday.

Given Reynolds’ pro experience and the fact it’s his first big-league camp, the expectation would be he would return to Tulsa or go to Triple-A Colorado Springs if he pitches well this spring. But given the role available, manager Jim Tracy is looking at him as a candidate.

“Is he a candidate? Yes, he is,” Tracy said. “Will we do that? I don’t know. I’m not going to answer that question today.

“A lot of things depend upon where our bullpen scenario goes over the course of the next 10-12 days.”

It makes sense. More-experienced lefties will be available, but they’re more costly. The Rockies will have to determine if they are or are not more talented than Reynolds. The Rockies’ other experienced lefty, non-roster invitee Jimmy Gobble, is trying to return from a right groin strain. He has continued throwing, but it isn’t certain when he’ll return to game action.

Tracy used Reynolds for two innings of Saturday’s 11-10 Cactus League victory over the Angels.

Of particular interest to Tracy was Reynolds’ reaction to Juan Rivera’s leadoff homer on a 2-0 pitch in the seventh, which put the Rockies behind, 7-6. Reynolds worked Brandon Wood into a fly ball, and fanned Robb Quinlan and Terry Evans.

“What happens after the home run is hit?” Tracy said. “Do we get tentative, start spraying them all over and start avoiding the bat, or do we keep going after it. He continued to go after the bat. That’ s an encouraging sign as far as I’m concerned.”

The homer was the only hit off Reynolds. He struck out two and walked one.

– The Rockies optioned right-hander Esmil Rogers to Minor League camp. Rogers made one big-league appearance last season, but is considered part of the club’s rich pitching depth.

– Righty Matt Belisle vanquished the Angels on a groundball and two fly balls in his lone inning, and has had four scoreless appearances covering five innings.

Tracy used Belisle in significant situations last September and used him in the National League Division Series against the Phillies. The only limitation Tracy faces is how often he can use Belisle, who has periodic bouts with forearm tightness after his appearances.

Belisle went up and down between the Rockies and Triple-A Colorado Springs last year. His issue, a lack of aggressiveness, didn’t show up during his last callup. he has continued to attack, saying pitching when it really counted helped his confidence.

“That just poured gasoline on the fire,” Belisle said. 

 

Street’s MRI shows no structural damage

Rockies right-hander Huston Street said Friday the good news is there is no structural damage to his ailing right shoulder, beyond “a normal pitcher’s.” But there is still inflammation that must calm down, and he’s still going to need to rebuild his throwing program, so the chances are pretty much nill he’ll be available for Opening Day.

Of course, that beats the heck out of having some thing torn and needing to make a decision on surgery.

“The MRI is not going to lie to you, so you have to trust that,” Street said. “I’ve been examined by a number of doctors, by our training staff. All of them are on the same page. You lend a lot of trust as an athlete to those types of people to tell you when something’s right, when something’s wrong.

“The picture was just another level of confirmation to that. It doesn’t hide the fact that there’s an issue that’s causing inflammation. But there’s no structural damage.”

Street said his schedule for returning to the mound is unclear. He said he and the club have discussed what the DL placement means. If he doesn’t throw in the Cactus League, it’ll mean some appearances in Tucson in extended Spring Training. The Rockies’ policy also is to have injured players do a Minor League injury rehab assignment, usually with the affiliate that’s playing in the best weather, and Street said the potential of that has been discussed.

But that’s after his shoulder feels better.

“Right now we’re just trying to get all the soreness, the stiffness out, get the motion back in the shoulder, basically, then you have to go through the throwing program,” he said.

Street underwent an offseason throwing program, but he said there’s no sense regretting it.

“You do try and figure out maybe some mistakes were made, but at the end of the day these things happen — it’s the nature of being a pitcher,” Street said. “I was just preparing myself like I had the season I had the most success, 2009 and 2005 and 2006. Those are the seasons I’d thrown more coming into camp, and I started off the season where I wanted to be.”

Flores bruised, Betancourt fine after throwing

X-rays on Thursday confirmed that Rockies left-hander Randy Flores has a bruised left forearm. He was hit by a line drive during Wednesday’s game against the Indians.

Righty setup man Rafael Betancourt, who has not pitched in a Cactus League game because of shoulder tightness, reported fine after facing hitters for 25 pitches on Wednesday. He’s in line for a simulated game Saturday, and could be involved in Minor League games next week.

The Rockies are awaiting MRI rsults on the sore right shoulder of closer Huston Street and the left knee of non-roster infielder Omar Quintanilla. The tightness and the interruption of preparation likely means Street will begin the year on the disabled list, but manager Jim Tracy said he is maintaining hope that the damage is not extensive and Street will not be out for long.

Notes: Redding gets chance to make Rox’s bullpen

Rockies manager Jim Tracy informed non-roster right-hander Tim Redding on Wednesday that his best opportunity to break camp with the Major League squad is in the bullpen. Tracy said he’ll use Redding accordingly for the rest of Spring Training.

The decision was expected. The Rockies came to camp with five starters. As long as they performed, the only opening would be because of an injury.

Tracy wanted to act now, since he needs to see how Redding bounces back between outings. It isn’t clear whether Tracy will use Redding in short stints or to go through the lineup at least once. That’s part of what Tracy wants to see.

Tracy said he didn’t guarantee Redding a spot. But the chance is there. That chance was enhanced Wednesday when closer Huston Street announced that he was having an MRI to diagnose his right shoulder tightness. The development means Street is likely to begin the year on the disabled list, which will cause a shuffling of bullpen members.

“We’ve got plenty of days left to pitch him, sit him down, get him back up after a day off, see what the stuff looks like, and eventually get him up to the point where we see can he go a couple of days in a row,” Tracy said.

In other developments:

– Tracy will allow right fielder Brad Hawpe to play some first base in Minor League games and plans to use utility man Melvin Mora at first in Cactus League games.

This is a contingency plan. The club has Jason Giambi to step in when Todd Helton needs a rest. But if Helton is injured for a long period, Tracy said he does not want to wear out Giambi. Last season, Giambi was forced into daily duty with the Athletics because of injury and saw his batting average drop to .193 before he was released.

Mora took groundballs at first base on Wednesday. Tracy said he wants to make sure Hawpe is comfortable at first base before counting on that as a possibility. 

– Veterans tend to avoid the bus trips to the Phoenix area, but Giambi will go with the squad to Peoria, Ariz., for Thursday’s game against the Mariners.

– Giambi, Helton, Hawpe and center fielder Dexter Fowler also are candidates to hit in Minor League games. The Rockies have not faced a large number of left-handed pitchers, so Minor League games serve as opportunities for at-bats.

– Righty reliever Matt Belisle threw a perfect inning with a strikeout against the Indians, and has four scoreless innings in three games. Tracy said Belisle is in “attack mode, with some overwhelming stuff.”

Bruised Flores arm has Rox crossing fingers

On a day when the Rockies were going to Plan B in the bullpen, they received yet another possible blow. Left-hander Randy Flores took a line drive off his throwing forearm during Wednesday afternoon’s 6-3 victory over the Indians. The arm swelled immediately.

Flores and the club hope ice through the evening and night will reduce the swelling. If not, Flores will need an MRI and the Rockies might be looking at Plan C.

Early Monday, the Rockies decided to send closer Huston Street for an MRI on his right shoulder because of persistent tightness and inflammation. If that injury forces left-hander Franklin Morales to fill in as closer for more than a short period, the Rockies will have to settle on a lefty to join Flores for specialist duty.

They don’t need a Flores injury.

But with two out in the seventh, the Indians’ Chris Gimenez lined a pitch to the box. Flores could not knock the ball down. It caromed off the forearm toward third base, where Ian Stewart fielded the ball and threw for the final out of the inning.

The arm expanded before Flores even made it to the dugout. At least since then, the news has been positive.

“When I came in, they did the test to indicate if it was broken — if I shrieked or something — and I passed,” Flores said. “It basically feels like a monkey bump, times 100. But it got a lot of meat.”

Flores signed a Minor League contract with the Rockies before last spring. He was coming off shoulder surgery, however, and spent most of last season at Triple-A Colorado Springs. Flores pitched well enough last September (0-1, 4.91 ERA in 10 appearances) to earn a new, one-year contract worth $650,000.

This spring, Flores has no record and a 3.86 ERA in five appearances.

“It is noticeably different the way the ball is coming out of his hand versus where we were at with him at this point in time a year ago in the spring, not even close,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. “That’s how much better he is.”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.