Results tagged ‘ Luis A. Gonzalez ’

Luis A. Gonzalez arrives, Belisle awaits his chance

Luis A. Gonzalez arrived at camp Monday.jpg– All the Rockies have arrived. Infielder Luis A. Gonzalez, who has been delayed in Venezuela with a family matter, arrived Monday morning and took a physical. Gonzalez played for the Rockies 2004-06, part of the time as a starting second baseman, before the club traded his rights to the Yomiuri Giants in Japan. Gonzalez missed most of last season after being suspended for amphetamine use.

He was signed to provide depth.

“I’d say specifically we’re looking at bringing Luis back and letting him get his feet back on the ground in the organization over here in the States,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “He was actually very vesatile for us, played a number of positions. He’s kind of a super-utility guy. He wouldn’t be ahead of anybody that we’ve got at second base right now.

“He’ll be on the back end of second base, moving around at third and he can play first, we’ve seen that. We’ve seen him play both corner outfield positions.”

– Non-roster right-hander Matt Belisle, who has appeared for the Reds each of the last five seasons, was not on the pitching schedule for the week. He siad he is dealing with some tightness in his forearm, but he doesn’t believe it is serious. Belisle said he hasn’t been told if he’ll be looked at as a starter or a reliver. Either way, “I’m here to go to Denver,” he said.

The art of the bunt, from unlikely artists

Todd Helton — Three career sacrifice bunts.

Brad Hawpe — Two.

Garrett Atkins — Zero.

Seth Smith — Eight in the Minors.

Yet at the end of Saturday’s rather lengthy workout (I didn’t time it, but it seemed long), all of the Rockies were taking turns bunting. And manager Clint Hurdle watched everyone intently. Multiple coaches offered tips to players.

The emphasis would seem odd. The Rockies play at Coors Field, where giving up outs seems a worse idea than other places because the park gives up so many runs. The Rockies have tried that strategy, with mixed results. They had 97 sac bunts in 2004 and 88 in 2005, yet won 73 and 67 games. They had 88 in their World Series year of 2007. The difference was in ’04 and ’05, the club had multiple position players with more bunts than any pitcher. In ’07, pitchers Aaron Cook and Jeff Francis were the far-and-away leaders.

So does this mean they’re headed back to the era of the Blake Street Bunters?

Not necessarily.

That’s not to say some folks who haven’t squared much will be doing so. After all, some of the ideas Hurdle has kicked around for a lineup involve Smith or Helton batting second in the order. That spot can come up at times the team is playing for one run. Also, last season the Rockies had such difficulty with runners in scoring position and in situations when they could have used a productive out that maybe the sac bunt could be a positive.

But the larger issue here is someone, or a few someones, must be able to execute the play. Therefore, it must be important to everyone, so all must work on it.

Before Spring Training, Atkins mentioned that the difference between an execution-oriented Minor League camp and most Major League camps, which often emphasize individualized work, is there are more skills that an entire team practices at once. This was one of those times for the Rockies, who did little tasks so well in ’07 and were awful at them in ’08.

Smith, for instance, looked out of place early in the drill but finished up with much cleaner fundamentals. Hurdle called him the “comeback bunter of the day” and lauded him for being mad enough at himself to immediately seek improvement.

Essentially, the philosophy is every weakness is important enough to improve. If a player sees his teammate addressing a shortcoming, how can he not address his own?

“I’m finding out who’s in a good place already and who can we isolate, that we’ve got some catch-up work to do with,” Hurdle said. “It’s something we’ve talked about. All of them need to be able to do it. Now, whether they’ll be asked or how many times, i don’t know that. But the focus is going to be on it.

“With that group setting, it’s helped us maintain. Everybody’s watching everybody else. I had a couple of guys help me out, saying, ‘Hey, so-and-so needs some work,’ because they’re working with them throughout the day.”

Helton dropped attempted more sac bunts during one turn in the batter’s box Saturday than he’s dropped in the Majors and Minors combined (seven), and he took more than one turn. Helton didn’t find it a waste of time at all.

“Every team bunts in Spring Training and goes over every fundamental — you never know when you’re going to be called to do it,” said Helton, who added that executing the bunt is a prerequisite for anyone who picks up a bat and calls himself a professional.

– Luis A. Gonzalez, a one-time starting second baseman who is returning to the Rockies as a non-roster player, has not arrived from Venezuela. Hurdle said he is taking cae of a family matter that arose, and the club is allowing him the time he needs.

Sunny day, cloudy outlook for Francis

Thursday is the sunniest day since the Rockies have been in Tucson. Even Jeff Francis was in a happier mood than one would expect.

Of course, his news wasn’t happy at all. He announced that he’ll have surgery on Wednesday to correct the shoulder issues that ruined his 2008 season. Before making that announcement, which means he expects to miss the entire season, Francis was in a corner of the clubhouse laughing and joking with several of the veterans in camp, such as Sal Fasano and Jason Grilli.

“Since the decision has been made, I’ve had peace of mind at least, knowing that,” Francis said.

Rockies reliever Randy Flores had a similar problem last year when he was with the Cardinals. Flores underwent surgery in September, and is doing well — albeit on a modified throwing program this spring. Francis said Flores’ happiness with the surgery and the progress since helped him with his decision.

– Former Rockies star and current front office member Vinny Castilla is managing the Mexican team in the World Baseball Classic. But the two Rockies he invited, left-handed pitcher Jorge De La Rosa and infielder Omar Quintanilla — have declined. De La Rosa is a definite rotation member because of Francis’ injury. Quintanilla is in line for a backup infield position, but he has decided to stay in camp to make sure he is seen by manager Clint Hurdle and the coaching staff. It makes sense. Third base coach and infield instructor Rich Dauer, hitting coach Don Baylor and bench coach Jim Tracy, all of whom he’ll have to impress to determine his role, are new to the staff.

– Speaking of the WBC, the Rockies are hoping that Chinese Taipei does not take righty Chin-Lung Lo, who had bone spurs removed from his right elbow after pitching last season at Double-A Tulsa. Lo signed with much fanfare as a 16-year-old in 2001, but his progress has been slow. He could have left the organization this winter, but the Rockies re-signed him as soon as he was eligible for free agency.

“He’s coming along slowly, but he’s matured and he knows how to pitch,” Rockies player development director Marc Gustafson said. “Physically, we look for a big year from him. He’s been here forever, it seems, but we’re not going to give up on him.”

– During the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, Rockies personnel studied video of left-handed hitting outfield prospect Carlos Gonzalez, a player the club obtained from the Athletics in the Matt Holliday trade. General manager Dan O’Dowd gave a detailed report on Gonzalez’s strengths and weaknesses.

Now Gonzalez, who arrived at camp Thursday, is looking forward to learning what the Rockies know. He was in Denver in late January, but he worked out one day, attended the club’s meet-and-greet with a limited number of season-ticket holders one day, and took a physical. So he hasn’t had a chance to get specifics from the staff on what he needs to improve.

This winter, the Rockies went through great lengths to downplay his acquisition, even though he was considered one of baseball’s top outfield prospects the last few years with the D-Backs, who traded him to the Athletics before last season, and with the Athletics. But whether it was intentional or not, the Rockies issued him No. 5. That was the number Holliday wore while making three All-Star Game trips in purple pinstripes.

“No, I didn’t ask for it,” Gonzalez said. “They just put that number on me. I don’t really care.”

During the winter, Gonzalez smiled and said maybe he could be the next Matt Holliday.

– Catcher Yorvit Torrealba, who did not report with pitchers and catchers because he was mourning the death of a family member, arrived Thursday. The only one who didn’t arrive was infielder Luis A. Gonzalez, who was having visa issues from Venezuela.

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