Atkins, Hawpe, Gonzalez healing
Third baseman Garrett Atkins returned to the Rockies lineup for the first time since March 10 on Saturday. Atkins, slowed by a groin strain, hit his first home run of the spring in his first at-bats — off Cubs starter Ryan Dempster.
Right fielder, out with a strained hamstring since March 20, will return to the lineup when the Rockies travel to Phoenix to play Oakland on Sunday.
Outfielder, sidelined since March 21 with a strained side muscle, will also make the Sunday bus trip to Phoenix.
Gonzalez doesn’t figure to have enough time left to win a roster spot. Atkins and Hawpe, however, are back in plenty of time to be available on Opening Day in Arizona on April 6.
Atkins has been sidelined twice this year — with a hip flexor initially then the groin injury. He has played in only seven games this spring, but is 8-for-19.
“We have been waiting on him to do all the things we felt he needed to do,” said manager Clint Hurdle. “We mapped out a plan and now we are able to put things in place.”
Hawpe was out earlier in the spring when he was spiked in the left hand, which forced him to withdraw from the World Baseball Classic. Then came the hamstring pull. He has played in only six exhibition games.
Hawpe did, however, play in minor league games on Friday, getting five at-bats in five innings, and on Saturday, getting seven at-bats in seven innings. Gonzalez also played five innings on Saturday in a minor-league game.
“I feel I’m ready to go,” Hawpe said. “I got plenty of at-bats the last two days and it was a good test for the hamstring. There was no idle time. You’d play in the field, come in and be on deck, hit and go back in the field.”