One year ago Nolan Arenado was one of the big stories of Spring Training for the Colorado Rockies. It turns out he probably was not ready for that kind of pressure and attention just yet. This year he was further down the list of hot button topics, as it was assumed he would start the year in AAA. His struggles in AA in 2012 indicated that he needed more seasoning and, defense notwithstanding, Chris Nelson and Jordan Pacheco acquitted themselves nicely at the hot corner for the Rockies last season.
Arenado is the star of Rockies camp thus far. Image: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Imagine if Arenado’s bat had been blazing the way it is now one year ago.
On Sunday in the Rockies’ loss to the Oakland Athletics, Arenado blasted his third home run of the spring. It was also his second of the weekend. Seemingly every Cactus League box score lists Arenado with an extra base hit, and coaches and fans alike are gushing about the way his bat cracks, how beautiful his swing is, and all of the other laudatory remarks typically reserved for hot-shot prospects.
Timing is not on Arenado’s side, however. One year ago the Rockies were starved for help in the infield. If you’ll recall, we were actually moderately excited about Casey Blake being the third baseman. Casey Blake! But now, after a season of solid production by Nelson, Pacheco, DJ LeMahieu and Josh Rutledge, there is a glut of infielders blocking Arenado’s way. All in all that might mean he still starts the season with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, and that might not be a bad thing…even if he does continue with this torrid production.
On the pitching side of things Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge De La Rosa both struggled this weekend. In 2.1 innings on Saturday Chacin was roughed up for the 3 runs, including a towering home run from outfielder Josh Reddick. Those struggles combined with a lingering toe injury do not exactly send Chacin off to the World Baseball Classic with good vibrations. De La Rosa was disastrous in Sunday’s 7-2 loss to those same A’s, continuing to struggle with pace and demand as he beat himself for 2 runs. He issued 3 walks and plunked a batter with the bases loaded. Hopefully he will be able to knock off the rust and the jitters in the next month of this year’s extended Spring Training.
The Rockies keep on rolling with their spring schedule Monday when they take on the Seattle Mariners. Note: the game will be televised on Root Sports.