Results tagged ‘ Ian Stewart ’

Rockies fundamentally sharp from the start

Eric Young Jr. led off the Rockies’ Cactus League opener by establishing that he and the club will hustle. Young landed a soft hit in front of D-backs right fielder Justin Upton, and didn’t think twice about going for two bases. One weak throw later, and the Rockies were in business.

Then veteran Paul Lo Duca dropped a surprise bunt and beat pitcher Billy Buckner to first base.

The hustle and attention to detail continued until the Rockies had an 11-1 victory at Tucson Electric Park over a D-backs team that, well, looked like it needed some time to get sharp.

“We’ve been back there [at Hi Corbett Field] working on a lot of stuff, and I’m just really pleased,” Tracy said. “We did a lot of positive things that are related to what’s going on.”

With two out and two on in the third, Seth Smith doubled and Chris Iannetta singled with two strikes, and Ian Stewart and Jonathan Herrera added singles to complete a two-run inning. The Rockies were crisp defensively. On the bases, Stewart was picked off second bay D-backs catcher Miguel Montero when he strayed too far from the bag on a ball in the dirt. But that was a mistake by a player trying to be aggressive, so Tracy had no problem with that.

Tracy has said the result of every game of Spring Training is not important, but the intensity and the intelligence with which the Rockies played Thursday are required.

“It’s a Spring Training game, yes, and there are things that we’re looking to see, there are decisions that you make that you’re not going to make during the season because of things that you want to see,” Tracy said. “But you play the game the way you want to play the game from April 5 [Opening Day at Milwaukee] hopefully through the end of October.

“As I told them, we’re going to play every pitch of every game. And if we don’t do that, whoever it is, we’re going to talk about it.”

That’s where right-hander Jason Hammel comes in. In the bottom of the second, Brandon Allen tripled to right-center. The throw to third base bounced past Stewart, but Hammel wasn’t in position to back up the play. Luckily for Hammel and the Rockies, the ball stayed in play and Allen stayed at third.

Hammel’s gaffe didn’t escape the notice of Tracy, who smiled and said, “It’s already been taken care of.

Hammel got the message.

“You have to remember the little things to make big things happen, and unfortunately I didn’t do my part on one — backing up third base,” Hammel said, even though he wasn’t asked about it. “But that won’t happen again. I was snoozing on that one.”

Tracy said he will point out the rare mistakes with pitch selection during the game and keep emphasizing various points.

Time to get started

It’s time to turn on the radio and dream of a regular season ahead. The Rockies will open Cactus League play today at 1:05 p.m. against the D-backs at Tucson Electric Park. Here is the Rockies’ lineup.

2B Eric Young Jr.

1B Paul Lo Duca

CF Carlos Gonzalez

RF Ryan Spilborghs

LF Seth Smith

C Chris Iannetta

3B Ian Stewart

SS Jonathan Herrera

RHP Jason Hammel

Here is the rest of the Rockies’ pitching schedule for today: LHP Jorge De La Rosa, RHP Manuel Corpas, RHP Juan Rincon and LHP Franklin Morales. The backups, in case any pitcher struggles, are right-handers Alberto Alburquerque, Shane Lindsay, Edgmer Escalona and Andrew Johnston.

D-backs pitchers will be RHP Billy Buckner, RHP T.J. Beam, RHP Bob Howry, LHP Tom Layne and RHP Leo Rosales. 


Roster set for Cactus League opener

With the Rockies having to play split-squad games in Scottsdale and Tempe on Friday, several frontline players are getting the day off Thursday when the Cactus League schedule opens against the D-backs at Tucson Electric Park.

Making the short trip across Tucson will be both projected catchers, Chris Iannetta and Miguel Olivo, third baseman Ian Stewart, and outfielders Carlos Gonzalez, Seth Smith and Ryan Spilborghs. That means first baseman Todd Helton, second baseman Clint Barmes, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, center fielder Dexter Fowler and right fielder Brad Hawpe won’t make it.

Fowler returned to the club after missing two days with a stomach bug. Fowler said he didn’t lose more than a pound or so, but the Rockies told him to take it easy while working out Wednesday and gradually rebuild stamina. Hawpe also is working into condition after missing four days early in camp with an infected ingrown toenail.

Melvin Mora and Eric Young Jr., utility players who will be used in the infield and outfield, will make the trip. Manager Jim Tracy said early in the spring Mora would play third base, where he played last year for the Orioles, but he’ll be worked into other positions, including the outfield and first base. Young played left field in Monday’s intrasquad game, and will see time at third base and center field in addition to his natural positoin of second.

Intrasquad lineups

Here are the lineups for today’s intrasquad game, which is starting late but will start shortly:

Away Team (wearing gray pants)

Eric Young Jr., LF

Hector Gomez, SS

Ian Stewart, 3B

Jeff Kindel, 1B

Chris Nelson, 2B

Paul Phillips, C

Cole Garner, RF

Chris Frey, CF

Mike McKenry, DH/C

Pitchers — Chaz Roe, Christian Friedrich, Edgmer Escalona, Craig Baker, Jimmy Gobble, Andrew Graham


Home Team, wearing white pants

Jonathan Herrera, 2B

Omar Quintanilla, SS

Matt Miller, LF

Michael Paulk, RF

Jay Payton, CF

Paul Lo Duca, 1B

Darin Holcomb, 3B

Wilin Rosario, C

Jordan Pacheco, DH/C

Pitchers — Samuel Deduno, Juan Nicasio, Alberto Alburquerque, Shane Lindsay, Andrew Johnston

Intrasquad plans for the Rockies

The rain has subsided in Tucson, so there is a little less worry about getting in Monday’s intrasquad game than there was hours ago. So unless the wetness returns, the game is set for Monday at 12:30 p.m. MT.

Interestingly, two frontline players — third baseman Ian Stewart and center fielder Dexter Fowler — are slated to participate. But as manager Jim Tracy said, that’s merely so they’ll have enough players.

Eric Young Jr., trying to win a utility spot, will play left field — a new position. Young is a natural second baseman. He played center field in a brief stint in the Majors last season. Young also could see time at third this spring.

On the pitching side, left-hander Jimmy Gobble is the only one with significant Major League experience participating.

Not that anyone in Denver is crying …

… but it’s been cool and a little wet here this morning. The temperature is barely in the 50s, and light rain is falling at Hi Corbett Field. Position players abandoned fielding and area taking batting practice on the main stadium field. Hitting coach Don Baylor and Todd Helton, two Rockies elder statesmen, have donned heavier long-sleeve jackets.

Third baseman Ian Stewart made his first appearance at camp. I saw him during the winter in Denver, but didn’t realize how much his upper body has filled out. You see those triceps and think power.


The Ian Stewart era is here

Ian Stewart’s time at third base for the Rockies actually arrived last season, but with Garrett Atkins now officially with the Orioles, there is no question that third belongs to Stewart.

The Rockies made Stewart a first-round pick expecting him to be a key part of the lineup. They’ve seen pieces of what Stewart can provide. In 2008, after a slow start, Stewart hit .270 with seven home runs and 36 RBIs in his last 63 games. Last season, Stewart dipped to .228 but hit 25 homers and drove in 78 runs.

Jim Tracy believes there is more.

“We got power out of Ian Stewart, but, especially when he gave me a glimpse of what it could look like if he figures out the word consistency and how to become that, I don’t view this guy as a .220 hitter,” Tracy said.

To truly be a difference-maker, Steart has to hit left-handed pitchers with consistency. In 2009, he hit .178, but five of his 18 hits were home runs. But he hit .370, with four home runs and 17 RBIs, against lefties in 2008.

It could work for all parties. Atkins has a chance for regular duty at the infield corners or as a designated hitter, rather than as a pinch-hitter. Atkins went 4-for-24 as a pinch-hitter. The Rockies are going after players who have played multiple positions or come off the bench before to replace Atkins.

Curb that enthusiasm … a little

In meeting with the media Thursday morning, manager Jim Tracy reported that closer Huston Street had experienced some improvement in his sore right biceps tendon. That means he’s on the uphill swing of his comeback. But the trajectory of that swing is anyone’s guess.

“I’m not going to even begin to get excited until I begin to get off the mound,” said Street, who has been playing catch on flat ground. “Really, the only thing keeping me happy is we keep winning.”

Right-hander Aaron Cook is set to throw a bullpen on Friday. Manager Jim Tracy said Cook, who is hoping to return to the rotation before the regular season ends, could either throw a simulated game against his teammates or pitch in the fall instructional program before returning to action.

Left-hander Jeff Francis, who had shoulder surgery during Spring Training, also threw on Wednesday. Tracy said his goal is to have Francis pitch in the instructional program to have some comeptition under his belt, then he can prepare for 2010.

Tracy also said shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who missed the last two games with back tightness, was going to hit in the cage and could be available to pinch-hit. But third baseman Ian Stewart, who also has missed two games with back issues, was not well enogh to be considered to participate.

Flores could play pivotal role; Stewart returns

Rockies left-handed reliever Randy Flores went 0-0 with a 5.63 ERA in 16 games with the Rockies from May 16 to July 4, before the club sent him down to Triple-A Colorado Springs. Flores, remember, ended last season with shoulder surgery while with the Cardinals. But he said he had no idea how far he was from top form when he was.

“I don’t know how everyone else is wired, but each day that I was throwing, I was telling myself that I was ready, and I’d work and do the best I can that day,” Flores said. “In hindsight, you could see the steps and the gradual progress. It’s been a bunch of baby steps that have allowed me to progress to where I am now.”

Flores posted a 2.35 ERA after being sent down. By August, he was back to top form.

“Part of it is the muscle memory of removing bad habits leading up to injury, and afterward,” he said. “There was progress made over this last month.”

Now he’s a needed piece of the Rockies’ puzzle.

Flores has pitched big games before. He appeared in the postseason with the Cardinals in 2005 and 2006, and posted a 1.00 ERA in 12 relief outings. With Franklin Morales being the only other lefty in the bullpen, it figures that Flores will be called upon at crucial times.

“I do have some history of pitching in some of those situations, and I look forward to getting one out or pitching four innings, whatever this club needs,” Flores said.


— Third baseman Ian Stewart missed Tuesday night’s 8-3 victory over the Mets to be with his wife, Susan, for the birth of the couple’s first child, a girl, Ellsi Gray Stewart. She was born Tuesday at 4:25 p.m. and measured 7.5 pounds and 20 inches. Stewart was back in teh Rockies’ lineup Wednesday.

Not worried about the West

Rockies manager Jim Tracy was asked about his team’s 16-22 record against the National League West. His reply was, essentially, the record isn’t as bad as it looks.

“I don’t think we’ve had struggles inside the National League West,” Tracy said. “I think we had some struggles specifically with one club in the early part of the season. But as far as the rest of the division is concerned, we played very good baseball.”


That one club, of course, is the Dodgers, against whom the Rockies are 2-10.


“And as we go forward, we have to be mindful of that, and hopefully through the months of August and September rectify that situation somewhat,” Tracy said. “I said at the end of the L.A. series, we’re 2-10 against them, I believe. But as far as I’m concerned, you can take those 12 games and throw them out the window because the six games we have left with them are the most important. Not to say that the other 12 weren’t, but they don’t have much baring moving forward because of where we’ve come from and where we’re at sitting here today.”


Well, that’s a subject for another time. The Rockies first post-All-Star break series at home is against the D-backs. And the Rox are 4-5 against them.


Here are the lineups:


Stephen Drew, SS
Ryan Roberts, 2B
Justin Upton, RF
Mark Reynolds, 1B
Gerardo Parra, LF
Chris Young, CF
Luke Carlin, C
Augie Ojeda, 3B
Doug Davis, P
Dexter Fowler, CF
Clint Barmes, 2B
Todd Helton, 1B
Brad Hawpe, RF
Troy Tulowitzki, SS
Ian Stewart, 3B
Seth Smith, LF
Chris Iannetta, C
Jorge De La Rosa, P
In another development, outfielder Ryan Spilborghs is not with the team tonight. He is with his wife, Stacey, for the anticipated birth of the couple’s first child. Spilborghs earlier announced that the girl will be named Kierra Esperanza Spilborghs, in honor of Ryan’s mother, Esperanza, who died during Spring Training after a long illness.