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Is the health of the Colorado Rockies trending upward following Germán Márquez and Kris Bryant injuries?

Patrick Lyons Avatar
February 22, 2023

SCOTTSDALE – The last time the Colorado Rockies made the postseason, six pitchers in their rotation made 162 starts for them.

DJ LeMahieu missed 39 games over three stints on the injured list while only Carlos González spent time on the IL among those in the starting lineup from a healthy 91-win club that came one game away from winning the National League West.

During Colorado’s last place finish in 2022, there was an abundance of injuries. One of the top starting pitching prospects missed the entire season (Ryan Rolison), the club’s best reliever through May had his year cut short (Tyler Kinley), two reliable arms went down with over a month in the season remaining (Antonio Senzatela and Lucas Gilbreath) and the team’s $182 million left fielder could only account for 42 games due to a pair of separate ailments (Kris Bryant).

For the Rockies to finish anywhere near the .500 mark some are hoping for within the front office, they will need all of their players on the field for a greater majority of the season.

“I think you always worry about players. You’re worried about their health,” manager Bud Black shared when discussing Bryant’s injuries. “So we’ll continue to do that with not only Kris, but everybody. Guys don’t want to be put in a bubble.” 

Apr 19, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies left fielder Kris Bryant (23) and center fielder Yonathan Daza (2) and right fielder Randal Grichuk (15) celebrate defeating the Philadelphia Phillies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The four-time All-Star missed more time in 2022 than any other season of his career. When he’s been on the field at least 60% of the time, his team has made the postseason. When he hasn’t, they missed October. The math isn’t exactly that simple, but having a former MVP that’s healthy is always good for winning games.

“Obviously, he’s a big part of our team,” Black said of the 31-year-old. “He’s a central cog of our potential success offensively. He’s a really good proven offensive player. We need him. So I’m excited about that. It’s exciting to get good players in the lineup. He’s a good player.”

Kinley (Tommy John surgery), Rolison (shoulder) and Antonio Senzatela (ACL tear) continue to recover from surgeries last season and are on a good track to contribute to the big league club in 2023. 

Rolison is throwing, building arm strength, and is behind the rest of the pitchers by about a month. Senzatela is feeling strong and focused on returning to the rotation by May. Kinley is still months away from returning from major arm surgery, but the news is still positive.

“The protocol that doctors, trainers and strength guys have set for what Tyler had done, he’s right on track, doing great. Playing catch up to over 100 feet, moving around the diamond, participating in drills. Doing fine,” Black assured. “Nature’s got to do its thing on a timeline of healing right and (developing) strength to the area.”

Space in the trainer’s room at Salt River Field got a little tighter following news about one of the more reliable bullpen pieces last season. Jake Bird, who didn’t make his Major League debut until mid-June and still finished with the third-most innings of any reliever on the staff, suffered a left oblique strain during live batting practice against teammates on Monday. 

“He’ll be out in the short term, the next week to 10 days with limited baseball activities,” Black shared with media on Tuesday morning. “Silver lining: better now than a month from now.”

The injury also means Bird’s participation with Team Israel during the World Baseball Classic next month is in jeopardy. 

Germán Márquez, sidelined with a hamstring strain last week that also removed him from participating with his country in the WBC, said he was feeling good in the wake of Friday’s injury revelation.

“Germán has been able to keep his arm going even from the hamstring strain,” Black confirmed. “Everybody’s concerned about his season. He should be able to be ready to start the season. No immediate plans on when he’s throwing in a game. He’ll jump on the mound again in the next day or two.”

Jun 18, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher German Marquez (48) delivers against the San Diego Padres in the first inning at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: John Leyba-USA TODAY Sports

Alongside Kyle Freeland, Márquez does some heavy lifting when it comes to the strength of the rotation. Since his first full-season as a big leaguer in 2017, the 27-year-old has made 166 starts.

The biggest injury concern so far pertains to right fielder Randal Grichuk who underwent hernia surgery shortly before the start of Spring Training. Not only did the first-year Rockie spend 52 games patrolling center field in 2022, he was at the top of the team leaderboard in many hitting categories.

“This is a period of time now where he just has to recover from the surgery. Not much activity,” Black said Grichuk’s injury status. “It’s going to be really close for him.”

Grichuk was the odds on favorite to be in the lineup on March 30 in San Diego. Now, it’s not so clear if he’ll be ready in time. Until he begins baseball activities in three weeks – even then, there will be a wait and see approach –  any number of candidates like Sean Bouchard, Michael Toglia or Nolan Jones could get the opportunity to open the year in right field.

Charlie Blackmon, who did admit to liking the DH role more than he had anticipated, could very well take his place in right for the final Opening Day with the Rockies. When he shifted over from center field, the previous Opening Day starter had been CarGo, fittingly, during that healthy campaign of 2018.

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