The Colorado Rockies played against their Talking Stick at Salt River Fields roommates twice over the weekend. They defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday by a final score of 11-2. On Sunday they lost 8-6.
In both games the Rockies surely pleased hitting coach Dante Bichette by swinging sledgehammers. Second base candidate Josh Rutledge led the way Saturday, knocking 3 hits. Tim Wheeler and Kent Matthes knocked home runs while Charlie Blackmon and Chris Nelson each notched multiple hit outings. Troy Tulowitzki returned to game action and was healthy and happy. Drew Pomeranz was the only pitcher to surrender runs, and he was even still pleased with his stuff that day.
On Sunday the Rockies fell behind by a 8-0 mark thanks to shoddy pitching by Juan Nicasio (4 runs on 43 labored pitches). His struggles were followed by rough outings by Parker Frazier and Miguel Batista. Those struggles matter much more for the latter, as Batista has to operate with a sense of urgency as he tries to make the team at age 42. Frazier, at age 24, is still developing. On offense the Rockies mounted a charge thanks to some pop from their young outfielders. First round pick Kyle Parker drove in 2 runs. Corey Dickerson is beginning to emerge as a star of this very young Spring Training; he blasted a two-run homer.
To hear these games on the radio was to confirm two of the main talking points this season: ground balls and aggression. Be aggressive and get ground balls. On both days the offense was aggressive, and on one day the pitchers succeeded in getting ground balls. It might be oversimplified but as far as the Rockies are concerned, those are the two ingredients in every possible recipe for success that they might find this season.
Timing is everything, or so the cliche goes. And when it comes to Chris Volstad‘s opportunity to make a lasting impression as a viable candidate for the starting rotation, it rings true. On Monday Volstad takes the hill the day after Juan Nicasio struggled mightily. Alarm bells of panic are ringing all over Rockies nation, as we wonder how long it will take for Nicasio to develop secondary pitches and whether he is even built to be a starter. Volstad will try to take advantage of that context. Wilton Lopez and Manuel Corpas will also make their spring debuts.