The delayed start of Spring Training due to the 99-day lockout means preparation time for the 162-game season has been halved.
Most around the Colorado Rockies camp aren’t overly concerned about the change in timeline, especially manager Bud Black.
“Starting pitching is, for me, the requirement for the six weeks to really feel good about the stamina – the volume of throwing that they increasingly get – as you go through spring,” Black said in his office on Monday morning. “Position players can get ready and relievers can get ready. But you’re a little bit crossing your fingers, right?”
Rarely does a starting pitcher go deep into their first game of the season. Only five times in the last decade has a Rockies’ starter lasted longer than seven innings in an April affair.
This year, it may take longer than usual to build up innings for the rotation.
“(It’s) easier for position players.” Black would elaborate on the topic by saying, “I don’t know how you quantify how much they are behind. But I’ve seen players in the past get ready in 10 days. Do you feel really good about it? Not really. But, they’ve been working out. They’ve been doing their work. They’re just not in what you’d like to say ‘baseball shape.'”
Thursday: 5-3 vs. Arizona, Win
Decked out in a uniform with a green cap and green belt, Colorado improved to 14-17-2 all-time on St. Patrick’s Day.
(Note: that’s a total of 33 games and the Rockies are currently participating in their 30th Spring Training. Because of split-squad games – two groups of players face two different groups of players – it’s actually possible. And since these games are glorified exhibitions, it’s possible for both teams to call it a draw after nine innings with the score tied.)
Ty Blach tossed two scoreless frames, striking out four in the process.
“I think he commanded the strike zone, mixed up his pitches,” bench coach Mike Redmond said of Blach. “I thought I saw a great tempo. For his first outing, sometimes it can be a little tough for some guys to get comfortable, but he looked really comfortable and really set the tone for the rest of the game.”
Bret Boswell, a player who was on the 40-man roster this time last year before a broken ankle ended his season prematurely, homered early in the contest and earned praise from Redmond.
“He looks great. He looks like he’s in phenomenal shape. These are the opportunities guys get and, I’m sure for him, he knows that he’s got to make the most of every opportunity and he did that today.”
Friday: 5-3 @ Arizona, Win
Before the game, the signing of Kris Bryant was officially announced and the 30-year-old was unveiled for the first time in purple pinstripes during a press conference on MLB Network.
“This has gone back since high school, like (GM Bill Schmidt) was saying,” explained Bryant on the connection between the organization and himself. “He scouted me there in Double Angel Ballpark (in Parker, CO) . I probably went there three or four times. I’ve always said, ‘I love Denver.’”
During the game, Zach Neal spun three innings to open the contest, giving up one run and allowing two hits while striking out three.
Neal was a minor league signing during the offseason following his third season with the Seibu Lions of Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan last year.
Rockies prospects helped mount a comeback in the eighth after being down 3-1.
Zac Veen walked and scored a run to start the rally and later capped it with an RBI-single. Coco Montes had a 2-run single that served as the game-winner.
Saturday: 8-5 vs. San Francisco, Loss
Shortly before the first pitch, Brendan Rodgers was scratched from the starting lineup.
“His back tightened up,” Black said post-game. “Playing it safe. Very precautionary to take him out. He’ll be fine.”
The ball was flying on Saturday as both sides combined to hit five home runs. Garrett Hampson had the lone shot for the Rockies against Tyler Beede, who may be battling for a spot as the Giants long reliever with their rotation all but set.
Gavin Hollowell gave up a solo home run, but the 24-year-old reliever received the praise of his big league skipper.
“Good stuff. I like Hollowell,” Black shared about the New Jersey native. “Good fastball, good slider. Aggressive. He’s got a chance. There are some things he’s got to polish up, but he’s got a good arm.”
News Radio KOA 850 / 94.1 FM will broadcast at least 13 games for the Rockies this spring. Saturday was their first game and Sunday at home against the Chicago Cubs is next on the slate.