What Rockies learned in first week of spring games
After a week’s worth of spring training games, the Colorado Rockies are 4-3 in Cactus League play. What the first week of play has told us:
probably has a job: Herrera was a good bet to win at least a backup job in spring training and his hot start — .467 with two walks, two triples and no strikeouts in five games — has all but locked up a spot on the roster. The question now isn’t so much whether he’s going to be on the roster but whether he’s going to be in the starting lineup.
probably has a job: When the Rockies signed Giambi to a minor-league contract, it was not the same sort of move as when they signed — who has had a very nice spring thus far — to a minor-league deal. The Rockies were looking at Giambi as the primary left-handed hitter off the bench, the same role he was expected to play last year, so long as his bat still has a little pop in it. It’s a small sample size, but Giambi’s 5-for-7 start with three RBI suggests it does.
and are close, very close: Neither player is likely to make the Opening Day roster, but they’re certainly closer to doing so than they were a week ago. Blackmon, who’s hitting .385 with a double, home run and four RBI in seven games, will be better served at this point in his career playing everyday at Triple-A instead of fighting for playing time with and . But he likely will be first in line in case of an outfield injury. Pacheco, meanwhile, has the ability to play multiple positions even though he has played only catcher this spring. He’s hitting .455 with four RBI, but with only 21 games above Class-A, winning a job out of spring training is a longshot. Earning a recall at some point in 2011 is not. Worth nothing, too, is the performance of , who has held his own in just his second spring as a professional.
Injuries can spoil a spring day:, , , and have all missed time this spring with injuries. The injuries to the latter three are minor and at this point don’t look to be a huge inconvenience to the Rockies, although Jimenez’s planned start Monday has taken on greater significance. Stewart’s strained MCL has kept him out of the lineup and has delayed his preparation, but that’s not as a big a concern for a hitter as it is for a pitcher like Cook. The severity of Cook’s shoulder soreness isn’t fully clear yet, but the best case scenario is that he’s lost more than a week of prep time and is increasingly unlikely to be ready to start the season in the rotation even if healthy.
The Rockies have options:, (his shaky start Saturday notwithstanding) and have shown positive signs of being able to claim Cook’s job. has pitched exclusively in intrasquad games, suggesting the Rockies aren’t confident he’ll be ready on day one, either. Paulino is the heavy favorite at this point.
The bullpen is a little rusty: This early in spring training, bullpen performance is tough to gauge. Relievers are working on specific things and one inning of work every other day or so in the fourth and fifth innings by guys who usually work the eighth and ninth isn’t a very large or representative sample size. But so far, , and have all had less-than-perfect moments. It’s early, so there’s no reason to panic, but the Rockies would certainly prefer to see the back end of the rotation settle in so the team can focus on the one or maybe two open spots. , at least, has been fine in his two innings of work.
is a little rusty: The goal for Gomez, who played just 27 games in 2010, is health, first and foremost. He has made six errors in seven spring games, but most have come in the act of trying to make big plays at three infield positions. The most important fact for the moment is that Gomez has played in every Rockies spring game thus far.