Results tagged ‘ Justin Speier ’
You look at right-handed bullpen candidate Tim Redding’s rough stat line — five runs and seven hits in two innings — and wonder if it would have been different had something gone right.
There was a close pitch to Mark Kotsay that could have been his second strikeout of the seventh inning. Instead, Kotsay lined a pitch to left that Eric Young Jr., trying to build his outfield skills so he can play a utility role, couldn’t pull in after getting a glove on it. There were a couple of grounders that went right past Redding. There was a bloop single.
Redding (1-1, 8.74 ERA in five Cactus League games) couldn’t wrap his mind around it all.
“The strikes I’m throwing are getting hit, balls are finding holes … I really don’t have anything for you,” Redding said. “I’m not overthrowing. I’m not trying to do anything other than throw strikes and get guys out. Today just seemed everything that I threw that was a strike, a good strike or a bad srike, was getting hit hard. The balls that weren’t hit as hard found a way to get through somewhere.”
Redding, who has been used mostly as a starter, was brought in under a Minor League contract as insurance in case left-hander Jeff Francis needed more time. Francis is returning after missing last season because of shoulder surgery, but his health has not been an issue. The Rockies told Redding recently his best chance to make the team is as a reliever.
Redding is competing with right-handers Justin Speier and Juan Rincon, as well as lefty Joe Beimel, for a long man role in the bullpen. Beimel, signed just days ago, pitched one inning in a Minor League game (two hits, two runs, one earned) on Sunday, and will pitch in a Cactus League game on Monday.
Rincon pitched out of a first-and-third situation and forced an inning-ending double play in the ninth, and has a 4.00 ERA in four games. Speier has a 2.70 ERA in nine appearances, and has a split-finger pitch that allows him to attack right-handed and left-handed batters.
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.
The Rockies played their last two games in Surprise, Ariz., and Goodyear, Ariz. — the two longest trips from Tucson, Ariz. After Sunday’s game, the Rockies’ bus was stalled in traffic behind a major accident, so the trip was even longer.
Those happened the days second-year right-hander Matt Daley was scheduled to pitch his first back-to-back of the spring.
Daley ended up throwing two perfect innings. He struck out two Sunday in an 11-11 tie with Royals and retired the only two batters he faced after replacing Jorge De La Rosa with one out in the sixth inning of Monday’s 9-1 victory over the Reds.
Daley gave up five hits, three earned runs and a walk in his first two Cactus League games, but has followed that up with five perfect appearances. Efficiency is his key.
“For a middle reliever, coming into jams, you want to get your team back on the bench as soon as possible,” he said.
Manager Jim Tracy said Daley simply needed time. “Finesse guys take longer,” he said.
Maybe the beard is the secret to success. Daley, 27, looks his age. That couldn’t be said last year. He admitted he needed to change something after his bad start.
“I just started growing it after the first two times out,” he said. “I’ve been good since, so I’m not going to get rid of it yet.
“Me and [veteran right-hander Justin] Speier have been joking. He said he’s got to get clean-shaven to look young and I’ve got to grow this to look old.”
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.
Non-roster catcher Paul Lo Duca suffered an undetermined arm injury and had to leave Friday’s game against the Athletics, but he said he was OK Saturday morning.
“There was just a knot under my arm,” Lo Duca said. “I don’t know what it is.”
Lo Duca said he was sore, but didn’t expect the problem to linger.
Here is the Rockies’ lineup agianst the Angels:
Jonathan Herrera, 2B
Ryan Spilborghs, CF
Jason Giambi, 1B
Miguel Olivo, C
Brad Hawpe, RF
Melvin Mora, 3B
Seth Smith, LF
Clint Barmes, SS
Jeff Francis, LHP
Giambi and Hawpe are getting a coveted chance to see left-handed pitching — the Angels’ Scott Kazmir. The Rockies haven’t faced much of it. Spilborghs is getting a chance to play all three outfield positions this spring. Key relievers scheduled to participate are right-handers Matt Belisle and Justin Speier. Belisle has pitched well this spring, but forearm tightness has limited his appearances. Speier spent the last three seasons with the Angels.
Francis will be tested by an all right-handed lineup (that’s including switch-hitting leadoff man Macier Izturis). Here is the Angels lineup that Francis will face:
Macier Izturis, 2B
Jeff Mathis, C
Juan Rivera, RF
Brandon Wood, 3B
Robb Quinlan, LF
Terry Evans, CF
Freddy Sandoval, 1B
Gary Patchett, SS
Scott Kazmir, LHP
The Rockies are playing at Hi Corbett Field and at Tucson Electric Park, against the D-backs in both games.
Here is the lineup fro the game at Hi Corbett:
Eric Young Jr., 2B
Clint Barmes, SS
Carlos Gonzalez, CF
Miguel Olivo, C
Melvin Mora, 3B
Michael Paulk, 1B
Cole Garner, RF
Jay Payton, LF
Aaron Cook, RHP
Here’s the rest of the pitching: RHP Samuel Deduno, LHP Christian Friedrich, RHP Manuel Corpas, LHP Randy Flores.
Here is the lineup for the game at TEP
Dexter Fowler, CF
Omar Quintanilla, 2B
Seth Smith, LF
Ryan Spilborghs, RF
Ian Stewart, 3B
Chris Iannetta, C
Hector Gomez, SS
Jeff Kindel, 1B
Franklin Morales, LHP
Here is the rest of the pitching schedule: RHP Juan Nicasio, RHP Andrew Graham, RHP Juan Rincon, RHP Justin Speier, LHP Matt Reynolds.