Results tagged ‘ Yorvit Torrealba ’

Thoughts of Tucson, B game extravaganza

First baseman Todd Helton has expressed a desire to play in today’s B game against D-backs, but he’s not in the starting lineup. Helton was hoping to be the designated hitter, but the lineup has the pitcher batting. Here it is:

Eric Young Jr.                 2B

Dexter Fowler                 CF

Carlos Gonzalez             RF

Daniel Ortmeier              1B

Yorvit Torrealba                C

Matt Miller                     LF

Luis Gonzalez               3B

Chris Nelson                 SS

Jason Marquis                P

– A couple of days ago, I wrote that six communities outside of Tucson — mostly in the Phoenix metro area — are in various stages of proposing a new spring home for the Rockies. Tucson continues to try, but with so many teams in Phoenix and with the local community having to overcome the economy and the distance from Phoenix, the Rockies have one foot out the door and another on a banana peel.

A move to Phoenix makes a lot of sense. But it’s too bad.

At the risk of sounding like a John Mellencamp song, I get enough of the big town during the regular season, especially Phoenix. I like being off the Major League path. Tucson has good restaurants and is surrounded by natural beauty. Yes, Phoenix is more convenient. When the Rockies play there, you just have to deal with the awful traffic. When the Rockies play in Tucson, you’ve got a two-hour drive before the traffic jam before the game, and a two-hour drive after a postgame jam that’s worse than the pregame snarl.

Oops.

Actually, Phoenix is a nice place to visit. I recommend Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Cafe, a soul food joint down the street from Chase Field (smothered chicken or smothered pork chops are worth every bite; worry about the calories some other time), and My Florist, a funky fern bar-restaurant complete with a pianist (where you could go worldly and order tuna nicoise salad, or go grade school and ask for PB&J) not terribly far from the ballpark. But give me something different during Spring Training.

Spilborghs back atop lineup

Rockies center fielder Ryan Spilborghs, who hasn’t played in a few days because of the death of his mother, is leading off for the Rockies today agains the Angels. Here’s the lineup:

Ryan Spilborghs          CF

Troy Tulowitzki            SS

Garrett Atkins             3B

Joe Koshansky           1B

Matt Murton                LF

Yorvit Torrealba            C

Clint Barmes              2B

Daniel Ortmeier          RF

Franklin Morales          P

Lineups are in, Baker is out

The Rockies put up a lineup for this afternoon against the Dodgers, and already have a change. Jeff Baker was supposed to be designated hitter, but he was scratched for Matt Murton because of tenderness in his right elbow.

Speaking of injuries, third baseman-outfielder Ian Stewart said he is gradually healing from a left biceps strain he suffered while swinging before Thursday’s game. Stewart said he is hoping to return to the batting cage on Sunday.

So here’s today’s lineup:

Eric Young Jr.            2B

Scott Podsednik        LF

Troy Tulowitzki          SS

Matt Murton              DH

Yorvit Torrealba          C

Daniel Ortmeier        1B

Carlos Gonzalez       CF

Christian Colonel      RF

Jason Marquis          P

Jorge De La Rosa and Josh Fogg also are schedueld to throw two innings apiece.

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.

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.

Greetings … and some Chris Iannetta talk

I’m settled into my housing. I’ve hung up all my clothes. Somewhere, my mom and dad are smiling.

Just outside of my window are two dogs, and adult and a pup. The pup is leaping and dashing and otherwise trying to impress the big dog. Every now and then, the pup wants to wrestle but ends up getting a big, stay-in-your-place bite on the ear. Somewhere in there is an analogy about Spring Training and position battles, but I’ll leave that to the poets.

Anyhow, thanks for the comments on the last blog. Remember, the people you usually read blogs from are the experts at this. I’m just a puppy at this forum. So pet me or hit me with the rolled up newspaper.

On to a question, from Scott T. Myers:

There is a lot of uncertainty with the heart of our lineup. Why is catcher Chris Iannetta not ever spoken about being consistently in the 3-5 range in the linuep? I know he has not proven his power for a long time, but neither has anyone else in our lineup. His 18 bombs last year should not be overlooked. Thoughts?

Iannetta’s 2008 was one of the best in Rockies history for a catcher. A couple of stats stuck out — the 65 RBIs and .390 on-base percentage were club records. The big one might have been the number of games he played, 104. There’s a theory that 100 games is optimal for a catcher with the Rockies, since playing at Coors Field can be taxing because the number of games that are a combination of lengthy and intense is higher than at other parks. So, the key is having a strong No. 2 catcher to make sure that the main guy doesn’t wear himself out late in the season.

That being the case, 62 games or something around that seems to be a large number of games not to have a heart-of-the-order guy in the lineup by design. For me, that would be an effective argument against putting Iannetta or any other Rockies catcher in those key spots. They have Yorvit Torrealba and are paying him $4 million, so he’ll play some.

For me, also, it’s a philosophical question. For a catcher, defense is the No. 1 job and trying to work a pitching staff through a season in such a difficult park makes it even more so. Putting the catcher in the heart of the order sends a contrary message in my way of thinking.

If Iannetta continues to reach base consistently and drive in runs, putting him low in the order could satisfy one of the philosophies general manager Dan O’Dowd wanted to put in place when he got the job — at a time when the Blake Street Bombers had just broken up. He felt long, productive innings were as important as home runs in putting pressure on the opposition. Having such a dependable guy lower in the order helps keep innings going, as long as someone makes up for the loss of Matt Holliday in the middle of the order.

Once more, keep those comments and questions coming.

 

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