Colorado Rockies spring training notebook: Tapia’s defense, Triple-A changes

Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black met with the media, including Rox Pile, on Wednesday morning from Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Here are some of Bud Black’s thoughts as Colorado Rockies spring training continues.

Raimel Tapia’s defense

There has been plenty of talk about Raimel Tapia and what he can do at the plate in 2021, perhaps even chasing a batting title. However, there’s more to playing at Coors Field than just hitting the ball. In the spacious outfield at 20th and Blake, defense is a key to any player’s success as well.

Tapia showed some improvement in defense last season, posting a 0 in Outs Above Average, and has been working to further improve his acumen in the outfield, Black said.

“It’s a continual process here in the Major Leagues, and there’s been incremental progress,” Black said. “Repetitions, practice, all the things that our outfield coaches do with with Tap are helping. It’s something he continues to focus on.”

Penciled in as the Opening Day starter in left field for the Rockies, Tapia will need to continue his defensive improvement as his offensive role (potentially coming primarily from the leadoff spot) continues to evolve as well.

Changes in Triple-A schedule

With word coming on Tuesday that the Triple-A season will start roughly a month later than originally scheduled and that players will work at alternate sites until that level’s season begins, Black discussed what the changes would mean for the Rockies and MLB’s other 29 teams.

“I think it affects all of us. All 29 other clubs, because I think the best scenario for players to be ready if needed to get to the big leagues is pure competition,” Black said. “But a lot of the Triple-A players are here in camp with us, so they’re getting spring training games in. They’re getting repetitions. They’re getting in shape for the season.

“Once we we send guys to the minors, we set our roster. There will be a little bit of downtime for those guys, but they’ll still be active.”

The Albuquerque Isotopes, Triple-A affiliate for the Rockies, will now start their season on May 6 at home against the Sugar Land Skeeters, Houston’s Triple-A affiliate. The Isotopes and other Triple-A teams will now play 118 games instead of the originally scheduled 142.

After not taking the field at all in 2020, Albuquerque was originally scheduled to open the 2021 season with a 12-game homestand on April 8. According to the Isotopes, those games have been canceled and will not be made up.