Greg Smith pitches his way into opportunity
Greg Smith was basically an unknown in the Colorado Rockies big-league camp.
He was acquired prior to last season, along withand , from Oakland for Matt Holliday. He had injuries and illness that limited his availability last year, and spent limited time at Triple-A Colorado Springs.
Now, the Rockies know who Smith is. He is in position to make the team, as a reliever. He reaffirmed his status by allowing two hits in four shutout innings in the Rockies 3-1 victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Hi Corbett Field on Tuesday afternoon.
“My main goal this spring was to come in and be healthy and show that I can stay healthy,’’ said Smith. “I feel good going into the season, real good.’’
Smith has done that this spring. In five big-league appearances he has allowed three runs in 15 2/3 innings, and has worked seven shutout innings against the NL West rival Dodgers.
“We were waiting for someone to take the ball and run and it hasn’t happened,’’ said Tracy. “I’m not saying we have made a decision, but is he a candidate? Yes.’’
Smith would seem to fit the two things managerhas said he would like to have – a pitcher who can work extended innings, and a left-hander to go along with Randy Flores in light of becoming the closer with Street on the disabled list.
The prime candidates for the open bullpen spot have been right-handers Justin Speier, Tim Redding and Juan Rincon. None of them, however, have been consistent this spring. Another possiblity is left-hander, who says he can be ready for Opening Day on Monday, but did not sign until seven days ago, and has pitched in only one game, working one inning, this spring.
He is scheduled to pitch again on Thursday against the Chicago Cubs in Mesa.
A key factor is that Smith does have two options so they could open the season with him in the bullpen, and give Beimel a few extra days to workout and make sure he is in shape, and then activate Beimel in the first week or so, and still send Smith to Triple A.
“It’s not like it would be a foreign assignment,’’ Smith said of working in the bullpen. “I did pitch in relief my first two years (at LSU), and pitched in relief twice in my first year in pro ball. … If I fit a need so be it. I have no problem with that.’’