Results tagged ‘ Jim Tracy ’

Rockies manager Tracy says ‘everything is positive’ after health scare

Rockies manager Jim Tracy said Friday evening his heart is strong and, just as importantly, in good hands.

 

Tracy collapsed during the Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., because of an arrhythmia after a long day and evening with his staff, and was taken to a local hospital for testing. He was released several hours later.

 

Since then, Tracy went to Denver and has been under the care of a cardiologist, Dr. Barry Molk at the Sky Ridge Medical Center in Aurora, Colo. Not only is the prognosis good so far, but he expects to be healthier.

 

“Dr. Molk, honest to goodness, his bedside manner is as professional as anybody I’ve ever been around in my life,” Tracy said. “He’s absolutely aware of what took place in Orlando, and I’ve had every test you could possibly think of, and everything is positive.

 

“I feel really good as it gets closer to Santa Claus. There is a 30-day window and there are a couple of he wants to look at, and he wants to see me again at the end of January. But unless I’m told otherwise, I may push down the clutch and switch to yet another gear. I mean it. There is nothing to slow me down. I don’t have to do things step-by-step. No way. I’m going to keep on plowing forward.”

 

In addition to making doctor’s visits, Tracy has been busy. He made an appearance at the Rockies’ annual employees Christmas party, attended a luncheon with Greg Feasel, the Rockies’ executive vice president of business operations, and executives of FSN Rocky Mountain, and was at a special event at The Broadmoor hotel in Colorado Springs on Thursday. Tracy also visited with new infield acquisitions Ty Wigginton and Jose Lopez, who made visits to Coors Field.

 

On Friday, Tracy was headed back to Florida for a happier occasion — the holidays with his family.

 

There will be a full story on the Rockies’ Web site soon.

 

Plenty of baseball left for Melvin Mora

Nice bit of news Monday at the Winter Meetings…Melvn Mora agreed to a one-year deal with the D-backs.

The Orioles didn’t bring him back after the 2009 season, after several years of distinction, mostly at third base. Mora felt he could extend his career by becoming a utility player, and he had a nice year for the Rockies doing it last year (.285, 7 HR, 45 RBIs in 354 plate appearances). Before leaving at the end of the season, he expressed appreciation to the Rockies for giving him a chance to revisit his versatility. Before establishing himself with the Orioles, he played multiple positions with the Mets.

“I enjoyed what I did here … it was an exciting year for me,” said Mora, who played first base, second base, third base and left field. “I thank [Rockies manager] Jim Tracy for teaching me to play first base.

“It was great for me to do my exactly what the manager wanted me to do, and do it right.”

Mora, who turns 39 on Feb. 2, has thoughts beyond 2011.

“I want to play through at least the next World Baseball Classic, 2012,” said Mora, who wants to represent Venezuela. “After that, we’ll talk about it.”

Free agent Jorge Cantu is a candidate to fill the role Mora filled with the Rockies. The Rockies also could trade to fill the spot, with Angels catcher-first baseman Mike Napoli and Nationals cornerman Josh Willingham among the reported possibilities.

 

 

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 roster decision highlights worth of early games

Rockies manager Jim Tracy faced an interesting call: Do the Rockies open a season against a Brewers club that has slugger Prince Fielder and a full group of other guys who swing from the left with one less left-handed reliever than normal?

Tracy answered that question Sunday. Even with the need for one more lefty, Tracy decided it wasn’t worth risking Joe Beimel’s health.

Beimel signed a Minor League deal with the club March 23 and pitched all of three innings in Spring Training. Beimel felt he was ready. He worked out at a high school near his home in California. When he arrived, he showed more bite on his slider than at any point last year, and didn’t give up a run or a hit in his three games.

But Tracy couldn’t get past the fact it was three games.

So Beimel will go to Tucson, Ariz., and possibly begin the season in the Minors. It’s the Spring Training he didn’t have. Right-handed prospect Esmil Rogers will handle the long relief role, and the bullpen will have to make due with only setup man Randy Flores and closer Franklin Morales throwing form the left.

Tracy said Beimel won’t have thrown enough to be activated when the Rockies open the home schedule Friday against the Padres at Coors. Beimel would be a nice guy to have in these early series. Fielder is 1-for-8 career and Padres slugger Adrian Gonzalez is 2-for-21 against Beimel.

But when it comes down to the manager weighing his health concerns against two early series, the decision is an easy one. We’re talking about a Rockies team that has gone to the playoffs two of the last three seasons by making stunning late-season runs.

Teams don’t make those when key components of the roster are needlessly pushed into potentially dangerous situations in April. The Rockies would like to perform better in the begining of the year, but not at that potential cost.

Plus, the roster has the flexibility to send Rogers down to Triple-A Colorado Springs once Beimel is ready. There’s no need to potentially lose a player the club needs when the roster move becomes necessary.

So this puts it all in perspective. It’s more important to not risk losing players, either to injury or off waivers, than it is to have a perfect Opening Day roster.

 

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.”

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.

Stewart displays Rockies’ heady hitting

Rockies third baseman Ian Stewart knocked his first spring home run, a shot to right field off Rangers starter Matt Harrison that nearly left Surprise Stadium, in Monday’s 7-6 loss to the Rangers.

 

But a quieter RBI – a sixth-inning single through the left side of the infield to score Miguel Olivo from second – impressed manager Jim Tracy every bit as much.

 

Olivo alertly took second on a pitch in the dirt. Stewart changed his game plan, realizing that going with a pitch the other way could change the scoreboard.

 

“That was a tremendous piece of hitting, an at-bat that you wouldn’t have seen him take last year, being in pull mode as much as he was,” Tracy said.

 

It was an example of the situational hitting Tracy has called upon this spring.

 

“I don’t think our hitting approach has actually changed,” Tracy said. “The sensibility of taking advantage of every opportunity to take runs, that’s what’s changed.”

 

 

Tracy will use Morales stragegically

More often than not, the Rockies want to use left-hander Franklin Morales as closer while Huston Street nurses a sore right shoulder, but manager Jim Tracy hasn’t declared that the job belongs to Morales.

 

Tracy said Monday that he won’t make such a statement, but there’s a strategic reasons to avoid saying that.

 

Tracy wanted to reserve the right to go to a right-hander in a save situation, even one when Morales is already in the game.

 

“If Frankie going to get opportunities to close games? Yes, he is,” Tracy said. “But am I going to sit here and make a statement where I’m leaving myself in a position to explain why I took him out? I’m not going to do that.

 

“I don’t know how far our starter is going to pitch. I don’t know how many guys he’s going to pitch beyond. If I’ve got a situation that makes more sense for a right-handed hitter to face in a given inning after he’s started it, I’m not going to put myself in that position and feel like I have to answer questions as to why Franklin Morales didn’t do the job. Maybe he did do the job, up to the point where I felt I needed to go to somebody else.”

 

Morales pitched a clean inning on Monday against the Rangers.

 

Hammel: Bad inning, good spring

Rockies right-hander Jason Hammel was strong overall, but his Cactus League ended with a bad final inning. Hammel gave up four runs in the fifth inning of Monday’s game against the Rangers. The inning featured Nelson Cruz’s two-run shot, after Vladimir Guerrero had reached on a bad-hop grounder that should have ended the inning.

 

For the game, Hammel went five innings, threw 90 pitches, and gave up five runs and eight hits, with four strikeouts and two walks.

 

“I’m ready to start making them count,” Hammel said. “My line wasn’t good but my arm felt good. I wanted to pull a positive out of it, but the last inning I got beat by a couple of fastballs that were up and a curveball that I hung. This is a good-hitting lineup and they hit mistakes.”

 

Hammel said one positive was he found his slider during the game. That and the elevated pitch count put him in a good position to start the regular season.

 

The outing against the Rangers increased Hammel’s spring ERA from 3.79 to 4.88. Hammel is scheduled for his first regular-season start April 10 at Coors Field against the Padres. He’ll throw one more time between now and then, at the Rockies’ training complex in Tucson, Ariz.

 

“Jason Hammel had a better outing than the numbers would indicate,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. “Obviously, he was out of the inning on the groundball that Guerrero hit that took the bad hop. But that’s not an excuse to hang the breaking ball he hung to Nelson Cruz, which is what happened.

 

“But he got his pitch count up there where we wanted it today.”

 

De La Rosa shuts down Athletics withouth his best stuff

Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa passed the biggest test of the spring in Sunday’s 6-6 tie with the Athletics. He pitched 5 2/3 innings without his best stuff, and held the Athletics to one run on seven scattered hits. De La Rosa struck out three, and the only run came on Jake Fox’s second-inning home run.

 

De La Rosa forced three double-play grounders, and had two sequences that demonstrated why he won 16 games last year and is being trusted with this year’s home opener — April 9 against the Padres.

 

The first two Athletics batters of the game, Coco Crisp and Rajai Davis, singled. But two groundballs later, including one by Eric Chavez for a double play, De La Rosa had a scoreless frame. In the second he bounced a pitch off the foot of Adam Rosales. It took an umpires’ conference to award Rosales first base. Instead of losing his cool, De La Rosa picked Rosales off first base.

 

“Not I know if I don’t have my best stuff, I can still pitch,” De La Rosa said.

 

Rockies manager Jim Tracy said, “He continues to show signs of understanding that you can’t let things get away from you.”

 

De La Rosa has a 1.80 ERA with 19 strikeouts and five walks this spring.

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