Results tagged ‘ Jorge De La Rosa ’

Monday’s Spring Training notes

It’s a time for excitement, but also a time for caution

 

Welcome to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Players are raving about the place. Reliever Huston Street told me before he arrived that he expected Monday to be “Christmas in February.” Well, after being there, stretching, tossing a football around, lifting weights, tossing the medicine ball and just walking around, he thought it was something more.

 

“It’s way more than that … I don’t know what this is,” Street said. “This is unbelievable.”

 

 And, no, Valentine’s Day wasn’t an adequate description.

 

Nonetheless, this is a workplace. Rockies pitching coach Bob Apodaca said his biggest challenge is not convincing players to work in the lap of luxury. It’s not letting them overdo it when pitchers and catchers begin official workouts on Tuesday afternoon.

 

Last spring, key relievers Huston Street and Rafael Betancourt suffered shoulder injuries early in camp. Street’s was because, in hoping to reach a new level, he wanted to throw with regular-season intensity from the first day. Betancourt’s injury occurred because he suffered an illness during the offseason and didn’t figure out what his arm was capable of until pain overtook him. Add to that left-handed starter Jeff Francis’ shoulder problems at the end of camp, and last spring was a failure in terms of having pitchers ready for the regular season.

 

That won’t be happening this spring.

 

Apodaca has a message for all his pitchers — one that numerous youth teams and coaches already working for their seasons, with children who don’t yet have facial hair or are getting peach fuzz, need to heed as well.

 

The first time out, and beyond, Rockies pitchers will throw a limited number of fastballs and a few changeups. The fastball is the main pitch they need, anyhow, so why take the risk with breaking stuff?

 

“That’s the first order of business every spring, to repeat the fastball, be comfortable with it,” Apodaca said. “When it goes astray, when I throw a scud, how do I get back to where I want to be?

 

“They can throw some changeups. [Matt] Lindstrom has really been working on his changeup. [Esmil] Rodgers has really been working on his changeup. It’s basically 80 percent fastballs, 20 percent changeups the first couple of times out, we’ll start throwing some breaking pitches. The fourth time, we’re going to bring them back a little bit, because their next time is going to be a batting practice.”

 

Apodaca said he realizes some pitchers have carried a heavier offseason workload than they’ll be asked to perform at the start of camp. But there will be no argument. It’s for the protection of the pitchers.

 

“This is always the most insecure time for me,” Apodaca said.

 

The gang’s almost all here

 

Most of the pitchers and catchers showed up at the complex, played catch and worked in the fitness center. One notably absent hurdler was left-hander Jorge De La Rosa, the No. 2 starter in the rotation. De La Rosa has an offseason home in the Phoenix area, but he went home to Mexico with his family and experienced visa issues trying to make it before Monday.

 

Players from outside the United States routinely experience delays, usually because of the time it takes to process the paperwork.

 

A fond goodbye to the Dominican Republic

 

Rockies right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, who finished third in the National League Cy Young Award voting last year, flew from the Dominican Republic to Phoenix on Friday, but not before leaving (in Spanish) a message to his country on a personal social media site. Here’s a translation:

 

“Goodbye my beloved land and my people, we are going to fight, God willing, with all our strength for the triumphs, we won’t be able to win every single time but sometimes you win by losing, so I hope you follow all of us Dominicans and send us a lot of blessings our way, I always carry my homeland in my heart and in my mind and I hope I can keep on making you feel proud.”

 

‘Tulo’ simply couldn’t wait

 

Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has been itching to play ever since signing his new, seven-year extension (which last through 2020) not long after last season ended. On Monday, he arranged to meet general manager Dan O’Dowd at the complex at 8 a.m.

By 7 a.m., Tulowitzki texted O’Dowd saying he had eaten breakfast and was already en route to the park.

 

“I was definitely anxious to get here – a new facility,” Tulowitzki said. “I woke up early, had that itch, wanted to get to the field, see all the fields, see the new locker room. Wow. Special facility. I’m glad I’m getting to enjoy it for a long time.”

 

The first full-squad workout is not until next Tuesday.

 

 

Rockies hot stove is on simmer

The general managers meetings in Florida offer a good time for teams to survey the free-agent landscape. And according to the Denver Post, things are about as expected with left-hander Jorge De La Rosa, a player the Rockies want to keep. Interest is strong: former Rockies manager Clint Hurdle has taken over the Pirates and identified De La Rosa as his top target, according to the newspaper, and the Nationals, as reported by MLB.com’s Bill Ladson last week, and Orioles are already in the mix. The Yankees and Rangers could jump in, depending on what happens with lefty Cliff Lee. The paper says the key, as has been the case all along, is if the offers are at three years, the Rockies will compete — and they offer an environment in which De La Rosa has been successful. If it goes beyond three years, De La Rosa is likely gone, and the Rockies could look for a free agent such as Carl Pavano or Javier Vazquez, or seek a trade.

The paper also reported that the Rockies are unlikely to re-sign right-handed hitting utility man Melvin Mora, who wants a contract quicker than the Rockies want to move on him. With the Athletics not looking to trade Conor Jackson, the Rockies could take a look at the Nationals’ Josh Willingham or the Angels’ Mike Napoli for right-handed hitting help.

 

Rockies still deciding on Olivo

Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd said he will take until Thursday’s deadline before deciding whether to pick up catcher Miguel Olivo’s $2.5 million option for 2011. Even if he decides, the Rockies still have to determine whether Olivo, Chris Iannetta or a combination of both are solid enough to handle catching duties. Do the Rockies seek a trade or free agency? That’s one of this winter’s big questions.

The Rockies will not pick up left-hander Jeff Francis’ $7 million option for 2011. Three years of shoulder problems makes it too risky, but O’Dowd says he wants Francis back.

It should be an interesting free agency season. The big question is whether the Rockies can retain lefty Jorge De La Rosa, who could have numerous bidders.

 

My thoughts? If the bidders stay in the three-year range, the Rockies can compete. If someone goes overboard on years, the Rockies will wish him well.

Rockies playing themselves dangerously close to seller status

Tuesday night’s 4-2 loss to the Pirates put the fading Rockies in a precarious position when it comes to their approach to the non-waiver trade deadline. There is increasing speculation that the Rockies could turn into sellers.Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that the Rockies have been quietly shopping veteran right-hander Aaron Cook. As The Denver Post reported, Cook is due $9.5 million next yeatr but his salary goes up by $1 million if he’s traded. There also is an $11 million mutual option with a $500,000 buyout for 2012. The Denver Post also mentions second baseman Clint Barmes, right fielder Brad Hawpe and pitchers Jorge De La Rosa and Joe Beimel. The Denver Post also reported that the Rockies have inquired about Cubs infielder Ryan Theriot, although it’s not clear what his role would be since shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has returned from the disabled list

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.

Cook finds form against White Sox

Before Sunday, the last Aaron Cook sighting in a Cactus League game featured him getting knocked around by the White Sox on March 16 — six runs and six hits in three innings pitched.

But Cook felt he regained his timing in a Minor League game last Saturday. He returned against the White Sox on Saturday afternoon and held them to one run and six hits in six innings of the Rockies’ 6-2 loss at Hi Corbett Field.

It’s as if the bad game against the Sox — and the bad start to the spring (0-2, 11.42 ERA in three starts) never occurred.

“I hate to say I was just getting my work in [during the first few starts], but that’s what I have to use it as — getting my arm in shape,” Cook said. “Now that I’m getting my timing down, and I’m getting the ball coming out of my hand real well, it’s time to go out there and start getting after it.”

Cook said he likes the order of the rotation. Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez will open on April 5 in Milwaukee, followed by lefty Jeff Francis and Cook. Lefty Jorge De La Rosa will start the home opener on April 9, followed by righty Jason Hammel.

“We’ve got five completely different pitchers that we’re running out there, so it’s not like we’re running back-to-back sinkerballers or back-to-back lefties,” Cook said.

 

De La Rosa getting early start; other notes

Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa is ready for 2010. And he’s in regular-season form almost 2 1/2 months earlier than last year.

De La Rosa held the Reds to one run — a first-inning leadoff home run by Drew Stubbs — in 5 1/3 innings of the Rockies’ 9-1 victory on Monday afternoon. De La Rosa struck out five, gave up three hits and walked one.

It’s a dramatic improvement from the struggles of last spring, when he went 2-2 with a 6.86 ERA in six starts. He followed that with an 0-6 start through April and May, but finished 16-9. Through five starts this spring, De La Rosa is 2-1 with a 1.86 ERA, 16 strikeouts and four walks.

“I started slow last year but I always believed that we would have a good team,” De La Rosa said. “Now, I don’t put pressure on myself. Now I know you can’t put pressure on yourself. I’ve got to go out there, enjoy the game and throw strikes.”

Most significant about the outing was the Reds went with a lineup that conceivably could take the field on Opening Day.

“They’ve got a very good lineup,” De La Rosa said. “If I face them during the season, now I know more.”

Concern over whether De La Rosa would bounce back from something like the leadoff homer is old news. He doesn’t let that bother him. But manager Jim Tracy took time to appreciate how far De La Rosa has come.

“There was a time early last year when that would be a rallying point,” Tracy said. “You’re sitting there immediately after one hitter wondering where is this start going to go. He was just like, ‘Hey, give me anther ball. Let’s get back to work.'”

– Righty Manuel Corpas, who has been up and down for most of the spring, had a smooth seventh inning. he gave up a one-out, Juan Francisco single, but nothing else. Corpas fanned Wladimir Balentien to end the frame.

Tracy said he hasn’t given up on the idea of Corpas being in the closer mix. Left-hander Franklin Morales has pitched better, and he handled the role well when Huston Street was injured last September. Street will begin this season on the disabled list with shoulder tightness.

Tracy said he hasn’t committed to anything yet, and he doesn’t need to until closer to the season. Before making decisions, he wants to see consistency out of Corpas.

“There’s enough time left this spring where you hope there’s a leveling off, where we see a couple of more times like we just saw today,” Tracy said.

– Matt Belisle had his fifth scoreless appearance of the spring. Monday’s was significant because he had one day off after his previous outing. Belisle has been bothered by forearm stiffness, so pitching well with reduced risk is a positive development.

“I can still hear the ball,” Tracy said. “You hear what I said? I can still hear it coming out of his hand. I’ve seen the same guy the last three times out. ‘Here I am, coming after you, punding the zone.’ “

– Minor League infielder Brad Eldred homered twice on Monday, and has three homers in three Spring Training appearances.

Eldred played for Tracy with the Pirates a few years back, and provides depth in the corners.

“I’m familiar with him and his style, really like him a lot, and the experience I had for a short time a few years ago,” Eldred said. “Hopefully, we can get back together again.

“He told me before the game that I was going to play all nine. He said to make sure I get my swings in. I made the most of it.”

– Second baseman Clint Barmes knocked his second homer of the spring, a two-run shot in the third inning off Bronson Arroyo. Barmes is hitting .344 this spring.

– Infielder Chris Nelson, playing shortstop, made a diving catch of a line drive and fashioned a game-ending double play in the ninth inning. Nelson was sent to Minor League camp on Sunday but made the bus trip.

– Infielder Jonathan Herrera also made a diving catch at third base. After entering as a reserve, Herrera went 1-fof-1 with a double and a walk after entering as a reserve. Herrera, a non-roster invitee, is hitting .421 this spring, and has made good defensive plays in the infield and outfield.

– Catching prospect Jordan Pacheco knocked a three-run double in the seventh, and has driven in seven runs in seven games.

 

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.”

Rockies set for match with Indians

Right-handed closer Huston Street is likely headed to the disabled list with a shoulder issue. He’s having an MRI today. Infielder Omar Quintanilla is getting an MRI tomorrow.

So the news has been a little bit of a downer this morning. But the Rockies are playing the Indians today at Hi Corbett Field. Here’s the Rockies’ lineup:

Carlos Gonzalez, LF

Dexter Fowler, CF

Todd Helton, 1B

Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Brad Hawpe, RF

Chris Iannetta, C

Ian Stewart, 3B

Clint Barmes, 2B

Jorge De La Rosa, LHP

 

De La Rosa’s comfort shows in strong outing

It’s a completely different Spring Training for Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa.

Last year, manager Clint Hurdle named him a rotation member before the team reported to Tucson, Ariz., but De La Rosa pitched as if he wasn’t going to be there long. But after a bad spring and an 0-6 start, De La Rosa found his delivery and became a 16-game winner (16-9, 4.38 ERA).

He’s throwing like a big winner now.

De La Rosa breezed through three scoreless innings, with two strikeouts, a walk and a hit in a 5-4 victory over the Padres at Peoria, Ariz. His fastball, curve and change were sharp.

De La Rosa bounced among several teams before landing with the Rockies before the 2008 season and eventually becoming a solid rotation member. But De La Rosa hasn’t forgotten what it took to reach that.

“I feel like you have to be focused every time,” De La Rosa said. “To start feeling like a star, that’s not a good thing. I want to work like I have to make the team.”

De La Rosa said pitching coach Bob Apodaca painstakingly worked with him on his delivery balance until things came together last June. Now De La Rosa can self-correct.

“Now I know when things are wrong,” De La Rosa said. “I don’t get mad. I just focus on the things I’m doing. That’s why I make better adjustments.”

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