There was talk in the offseason about the Colorado Rockies needing a veteran presence behind the plate to bolster the position and help Colorado’s young pitching staff. The Rockies may have found that person in Ryan Hanigan.
While Colorado management made it clear that Tony Wolters and Tom Murphy would do well for the Rockies behind the plate, there was still talk of bringing in someone like Matt Wieters to fill the mentor role that Nick Hundley had played for the Rockies in 2016.
Well, things have changed for the Rockies behind the plate in the early part of the season. Wolters is currently out with a concussion and Murphy is still shelved with a fractured forearm. When Wolters went out with his concussion during Colorado’s recent road trip in San Diego, it opened the door for the 36-year-old Hanigan to join his fourth Major League team.
What does Hanigan bring to the Rockies? Among other things, experience. He’s now appeared in 649 games since his career began with the Cincinnati Reds in 2007. Wolters has 88 games under his belt while Garneau has 64 and Murphy has 32.
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Signed in late March to a minor league deal, Hanigan has proven himself quite valuable in his short time with the Rockies. Since making his debut in San Diego on May 4, Hanigan is hitting .556. That includes a 2-for-4 performance with an RBI in Saturday night’s 9-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Coors Field.
The offensive side that Hanigan has brought to the team has been impressive, but his leadership behind the plate has been noticed by manager Bud Black, among others. Hanigan was behind the plate on Saturday as Tyler Anderson had his best outing of the season by far, striking out 10 Diamondbacks while scattering six hits over six innings and allowing just one earned run.
"“I thought we had a good game plan that he executed,” Hanigan told Rox Pile. “I’m very selfless but I think we had a good tempo. I think that was big. Our communication in between innings about what we were doing was big. We attacked these hitters pretty smart and he made good pitches.”"
Anderson praised the veteran catcher and the calming influence he has brought to the field.
"“He’s good,” Anderson said. “He’s been catching for a long time. When things go fast, sometimes he sees things that we may not see as pitchers or some things that I don’t see. He does a good job of keeping me where I need to be.”"
Anderson dominated the Diamondbacks from the third inning on, striking out six of the last seven batters he faced. After Arizona threatened to do big damage in the first three innings, Anderson settled in and flashed the form that made him so effective in 2016.
"“I really liked the way (Anderson) and Ryan worked together,” Black said. “You saw the three-pitch mix. The use of the change. He (Anderson) got some fastballs by some of their hitters late in the game at the top of the zone. He threw some low fastballs on the outside corner that needs to be done by every starting pitcher in baseball.”"
So far, Hanigan likes what he sees out of his new teammates.
"“It’s been great. The guys and the coaching staff have been great. The chemistry is great. It’s a really fun team to be on. It’s a good mix of veterans and younger guys. They’re winning games. They’re hungry every day. They work hard. There’s a lot of talent. I’m having fun.”"