Results tagged ‘ Jason Grilli ’

No patience with walks

Rockies manager Clint Hurdle has attempted to maintain a consistent and calm demeanor, even though the execution and fundamentals the Rockies emphasized all spring have been lacking. But that patience disappears when relievers can’t throw strikes in the late innings of close games.

Huston Street lost his closer job that way last week at Wrigley Field. Tuesday night, Hurdle unceremoniously yanked righty setup man Jason Grilli when he walked two in the eighth inning of the 9-6 victory over the D-backs.

There would have been cause for Hurdle to try to let Grilli escape. By using lefty Alan Embree to complete the inning, Hurdle left himself with only Manuel Corpas to finish the game. The only other reliever on the squad, Jason Hammel, had thrown two innings the previous game, and Franklin Morales’ injury early in Tuesday’s game meant Hammel was going to move into the starting rotation.

But he was not going to lose a game because Grilli wasn’t throwing strikes.

“We’ve got no time for walks late in ballgames,” Hurdle said. “Nobody. We’re not going to put up with that. If you can’t throw the ball over the plate late in a ballgame, I’ve got to get somebody else. It’s that simple.

“If you want more, and you’ve got an opportunity to do more but you walk two left-handed batters and you’re missing on your arm side six or seven straight pitches, I’ve got to go get you. He knows that.

“You saw the guy two nights ago, then you saw the guy last night. I asked him, ‘Which guy are you?’ That’s part of the challenge that’s in front of him. If you want more, do more.”

Here are the lineups for Wednesday afternoon:

Rockies

Ryan Spilborghs              CF

Jeff Baker                        2B

Todd Helton                     1B

Garrett Atkins                  3B

Brad Hawpe                     RF

Troy Tulowitzki                SS

Chris Iannetta                   C

Seth Smith                      LF

Jorge De La Rosa              P

D-backs

Felipe Lopez                   2B

Stephen Drew                 SS

Conor Jackson                LF

Mark Reynolds               3B

Chad Tracy                    1B

Chris Young                   CF

Eric Byrnes                    RF

Chris Snyder                   C

Dan Haren                      P

Colonel wows his manager

Prospect Christian Colonel, who has received extensive playing time this spring because of injuries to third basemen Garrett Atkins and Jeff Baker, had manager Clint Hurdle talking about his ninth-inning, three-run homer in Monday’s 8-3 victory over the D-backs at Tucson Electric Park.

“I was waiting to hear some cars,” Hurdle said before making a car alarm sound.

– Baker, limited to two games this spring because of an elbow issue, was available but did not play Monday. Hurdle said Baker will start at third base on Tuesday against the Royals.

– Atkins has been out lately with a strained right hip flexor, but told the Denver Post on Monday that his right groin is sore, and limiting his lateral movement. Hurdle said after Monday’s game that there is no reason to push him into the lineup Tuesday. The club is off on Wednesday.

– Closer candidate Huston Street struck out two in two spotless innings on Monday. After struggling in his first two official spring outings, Street has thrown three perfect innings in his last two appearances. Righty releiver Jason Grilli, coming off a poor outing against the Mariners (three hits, two runs in one inning), walked one on Monday but pitched a scoreless inning. Lefty Glendon Rusch was credited with a save Monday after giving up three hits and a walk but no runs in two innings. He has thrown 4 1/3 scoreless innings in Cactus League games. He did give up two runs, one earned, in an intrasquad contest.

Calling out the pitchers

Rockies right-hander Jason Marquis upheld a tradition for veteran pitchers. After some ugly numbers Saturday against the Mariners — 3 2/3 innings, nine hits, five runs, two walks, 88 pitches — he chalked it up to just being in Spring Training.

“For the most part, I executed a lot of pitches like I wanted to, and [hits] found some holes,” Marquis said. “A lot of positives, a lot of two-strike counts. It was a step in the right direction. I got my pitch count up. That’s why we’re here, to work on a few things, get some things straightened out. I think I’ve got four starts left.

“I didn’t really use my changeup as much as I would during the season. I was trying to get my curveball over for a strike — not only for a strike, but bury it when I needed to and throw it for a strike when I needed to. There were certain counts when I don’t think I would have thrown my curveball normally, but today I did. I tried to get a better feel for a cutter, not spinning it so much.”

Normally, that’s a right afforded pitchers who have been around. Marquis qualifies, having pitched for the Braves, Cardinals and Cubs.

But manager Clint Hurdle wasn’t as happy with Marquis’s direction.

“He had too many deep counts,” Hurdle said. “As a staff, we’re not executing anywhere near the level we’re going to need to execute to be successful. As a group, we’re talking about throwing 70 percent first-pitch strikes. We’re not doing it. We’re talking about acute location of our fastball, arm-side. We’re not doing it, so more of the same today.

“We’ve got some guys that are showing some flashes of some things, but as a staff, we’ve got to cover some ground here.”

Informed that Marquis said he was working on some pitches, Hurdle sounded as unhappy with the explanation as the performance.

“It’s time they started making comments after a game that ‘I commanded my fastball, I threw strikes, my slider was sharp, I had a good sinker,'” Hurdle said. “That’s what we need to start doing.”

It was clear Hurdle was delivering a message, not just to Marquis but to all of the starters. Only Aaron Cook and Ubaldo Jimenez, who has done his most-recent pitching for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, have been consistently solid. 

It’s not as if Hurdle threatening massive changes in the rotation. The Rockies traded for Marquis to provide veteran leadership. That won’t change. Hurdle has been exceedingly patient with Jorge De La Rosa, who has struggled his last two times out and will meet the Dodgers on Sunday. The team is still trying to sort through a host of pitchers for the fifth starting spot.

Hurdle’s call for better quality might be as much a clarification as a declaration.

Some of the ugly early performances from starters occurred because the pitchers were under orders to work on one thing — fastball command — and had to pitch to a specific pattern. Hitters quickly figured out what pitch was coming. The Rockies relaxed those orders after each pitcher had a couple of starts.

But how close are the Rockies supposed to be to the form they need for a regular season that starts 23 days from now? The way Hurdle spoke on Saturday, it’s not close enough.

– Hurdle also was not happy with right-handed reliever Jason Grilli, who pitched well for Italy in the World Baseball Classic but gave up three hits and two runs in his inning.

“We’ve got to have improved focus and discipline off the mound,” Hurdle said. “Twenty pitches, poor fastball command, pitching one side of the plate. We’ve got way to many guys pitching one side of the plate that aren’t good enough to be pitching one side of the plate. These are things and areas we need to target and work on as we move forward.”

– Left-handed non-roster candidate Cedrick Bowers gav eup three runs on one hit and two walks before leaving with a back/rib cage injury that has hampered him all spring.

– Righty Ryan Speier continued his scoreless spring (six innings) by giving up one hit and a walk but striking out two in the ninth.

New week, new pitching schedule

Here is the Rockies’ pitching schedule for the week:

Monday vs. Angels at Hi Corbett Field: Franklin Morales, Huston Street, Jason Hirsh, Juan Morillo and Esmil Rogers.

Tuesday at Brewers at Mayvale Baseball Park (Phoenix): Greg Smith, Alan Embree, Greg Reynolds, Ran Mattheus.

Wednesday, “B” game vs. D-backs: Jason Marquis, Glendon Rusch, Josh Fogg, Huston Street, Taylor Buchholz, Ryan Speier.

Thursday, exhibition vs. Team Mexico (World Baseball Classic) at Hi Corbett Field: Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin, Brandon Hynick, Shane Lindsay, Steven Register.

Friday vs. Padres at Peoria: Aaron Cook, Huston Street, Alan Embree, Taylor Buchholz, Ryan Mattheus, Esmil Rogers.

Saturday vs. Giants at Scottsdale: Jason Hish, Ryan Speier, Franklin Morales.

To recap, here are the players who are missing because of the World Baseball Classic: catcher Chris Iannetta (Team USA), right-handed starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez (Dominican Republic), right-handed closer Manuel Corpas (Panama), right-handed reliever Jason Grilli (Italy) and Minor League right-handed reliever Adam Bright (Australia). Right fielder Brad Hawpe would have played for the U.S., but he suffered a lacerated pinkie on his left (throwing) hand Friday that required four stitches.

Lineup time … and welcome to the Ranter

Left fielder Seth Smith, who has received so many kudos from the Rockies about his swing that he’s getting a chance to start this year, will hit from the No. 2 spot in Wednesday afternoon’s Spring Training opener against the D-Backs. Also, with first baseman Todd Helton not yet ready for regular action (he was spotted heading for a workout and hitting session), Brad Hawpe takes the No. 3 spot in the order. Garrett Atkins will bat cleanup and Troy Tulowitzki, whi hit second and seventh last season, is batting fifth.

Here’s the lineup in its entirety:

Ryan Spilborghs   CF

Seth Smith           LF

Brad Hawpe         RF

Garrett Atkins      3B

Troy Tulowitzki     SS

Chris Iannetta        C

Joe Koshansky    1B

Clint Barmes        2B

Aaron Cook           P

 

I pulled up to Hi Corbett Field this morning and saw, in all its glory and splendor, The Rockpile Ranter’s Mobile Blog Unit. Welcome to Tucson. I’d have taken a picture, but I was afraid that a security force would have apprehended me. But now that my intentions are known, a snapshot shouldn’t be a problem. Should it?

– Here’s a little more: today’s pitching schedule.

Cook (two innings)

Ubaldo Jimenez (2)

Manuel Corpas (1)

Alan Embree (1)

Juan Morillo (1)

Jason Grilli (1)

Ryan Mattheus (1)

Here is pitching schedule for tomorrow against the White Sox.

Jason Hirsh (two innings)

Franklin Morales (2)

Taylor Buchholz (1)

Huston Street (1)

Cedrick Bowers (1)

Shane Lindsay (1)

Ryan Speier (1)

Pitchng schedules are always subject to change, of course.

Early-spring lineup thoughts

Manager Clint Hurdle hasn’t revealed his lineup yet, but he gave some thoughts.

– The game-changer, Matt Holliday, is gone, having been traded to the Athletics, but Hurdle believes he has “the personnel to have a very challenging lineup, 1-through-8, maybe as challenging as we’ve had on some time.” He measures this is “the quality of at-bats, the number of pitches seen, the ability to hit a ball in the gap and score a couple runs.”

– On Todd Helton: “The only thing we’ve talked about over the winter is him finding a way, with good health, to be the toughest out in the National League.” Hurdle said if that happens, his customary No. 3 spot could be the place for him. But he recalled the 2007 lineup functioning nicely with him hitting cleanup.

– Can left-handed hitting Brad Hawpe bat cleanup? Hurdle says it’s worth exploring, because Hawpe proved last year he could hit lefties consistently. Before then, the question was whether Hawpe was a platoon palyer. Regardless where Hawpe hits in the order, Hurdle sad he has earned the lineup to stay in the lineup against tough lefties.

– Center fielder Ryan Spilborghs’ .374 on-base percentage means he’ll have first shot at the leadoff role. The power Spilborghs has shown in part-time duty over the last two years leads Hurdle to believe Spilborghs can be a different type of leadoff hitter. “Those of us who’ve got a little age on us can remember when Brian Downing led off with the Angels,” Hurdle said. “Of course, he was a DH, but he went to the top of the order. Eerybody said, ‘What?’ But it turned out to be a very nice play, and a very nice dynamic they had.”

The leadoff man as an RBI guy? Don’t scoff. “You look at how many times last year we had our leadoff hitter up wiht a man in scoring position, and we really didn’t fare in a real good way.”

– Catcher Chris Iannetta produced runs and reached base at rates that are good for those who bat in the top or middle of the lineup. Hurdle said Iannetta could hit in the foruth or fifth spots against left-handed pitching. In 80 at-bats against lefties, Iannetta hit .275 with six home runs and 19 RBIs last season.

– An interesting question will be where shortstop Troy Tulowitzki will hit. In 2007, Tulowitzki hit .297 in the second spot and .294 in the seven hole. In 2008, Tulowitzki fared much better at No. 7 (.306) than No. 2 (.222).

Go forth and exercise: In recent season, many of the Rockies stayed in Denver and worked out at Coors Field because they clicked with strength and conditioning coach Brad Andress. But the club replaced him after last season ended, and hadn’t promoted Brian Jordan from within, so many players ended up training in their hometowns. General manager Dan O’Dowd said, “I think training has evolved in a lot of different directions. Some of the agencies and training institutes are on the cutting edge. In some cases it’s great, in orhter cases it may be not so. But where our guys went really helped them.”

On the way: Catcher Yorvit Torrealba was hoping to arrive in Tucson on Monday night, and right-hander Jason Grilli was hoping to arrive Tuesday and be available for Wednesday’s workout. Both were mourning deaths in their families.

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