Colorado Rockies pitching coach Steve Foster spoke with the media, including Rox Pile, via Zoom on Monday morning and he gave some updates and opinions on some of his pitchers, some of which we have yet to see in Spring Training.
One of them Foster was asked about was starting pitcher Jon Gray. Gray, who has been injured in each of the last two seasons with season-ending injuries sustained in August, had a tough year in 2020 for more than just the shoulder injury. However, Gray worked very hard this offseason to recover mentally and physically from the injury.
"“[I]t was a difficult year for everybody on the planet,” said Foster to the media. “[It was the case f]or big-league pitchers of being able to perform their jobs under the circumstances [and] it was different for all people. And it was a little more difficult for Jon last year. I think emotionally it was difficult to see the decrease in the velocity, the way the world was, and the slider, the whole thing.”“So, you know, it was a tough year for Jon … [B]ut he has bounced back. He has had a tremendous offseason. He did a lot of things to get himself right mentally, emotionally–and physically, he’s a horse. So he’s been throwing great. He has had a great spring thus far … [I]n the (simulated) game that he pitched [and] in his side (sessions), his velocity is up. His timing and separation is great, which is key to his delivery. And he just looked great all the way around.”"
Foster was asked about two guys that we have seen in games this spring: left-handers Ben Bowden and Ryan Rolison.
Here’s what Foster had to say about them and what he has seen this offseason as well as some thoughts on the possibility of pitching at altitude.
"“[They are] big league guys [with] big league futures, mainly starting with their attitude,” said Foster. “You know, when I came in seven years ago now, it was ‘altitude matters, but your attitude matters more’. It’s a difficult place to pitch. We don’t deny that at all. And it takes an attitude with an extreme mental toughness. And both of these guys have shown that they’ve shown it.”“With (Bowden), he has been through a lot of adversity with his health. And you know, with Rolison and last year and COVID not even getting a season in, these guys have both showed up in tremendous shape. Not only with their great attitudes but they’re throwing the ball well and they’re fitting in well. They’re ‘chemistry’ guys. They [would] fit in with any group and they’re gonna be great left handed pitchers, which we could use a few.”"
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He also said that Bowden is “completely healthy” and he “absolutely” thinks that Bowden will be with the MLB team “at some point during the season.”
If Bowden makes the team sometime in the season, he would be in the bullpen, which, in Foster’s opinion, is poised to have a bounceback year.
"“Those guys down there–(Daniel) Bard, (Mychal) Givens, (Tyler) Kinley, (Carlos) Estevez, (Jairo) Diaz, and some others, they’ve learned how to think like a platoon,” said Foster. “‘We got it done’ or ‘we didn’t get it done’ as a group. And again, it goes back to attitude and it’s (Rockies GM) Jeff Bridich pulling together the right attitude guys, along with (Rockies assistant GM of Player Personnel) John Wile and our front office. These are right attitude guys. Whether they came through our system or whether we got them from other clubs.”"
He then followed by giving high praise to Daniel Bard:
"“[In] Daniel Bard’s case, [he was] the Comeback Player of the Year–I think the Comeback Player of the century in all sports, if you look at what he did, and where he was,” said Foster. These are mentally tough guys with the right mindset, and a platoon thinking, and I think that’s what’s critical more than anything else.”"
Foster also graded German Marquez’s (aka “The Puma,” per Foster) inaugural 2021 Cactus League outing by saying that he hit up to 98 MPH, which for a first spring training outing is an excellent sign going into the season.
The Rockies will take on the Diamondbacks at 1 PM M.T. and the game will be broadcast on KOA 850 AM and the Rockies Radio Network and be broadcast on television by Arizona.