Veteran reliever Scott Oberg looked sharp in his first outing of the spring on Friday, tossing a scoreless inning, but the Colorado Rockies could not hold on to a three-run, seventh-inning lead and fell 9-8 to the San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Stadium.
Meanwhile, catcher Elias Diaz continued his torrid hitting during Cactus League play, going 2-for-2 at the plate with a three-run home run to highlight Colorado’s nine-hit attack, which also featured a solo home run by Trevor Story.
Friday was about Scott Oberg’s return to the Colorado Rockies.
Oberg, who missed the 2020 regular season after being placed on the injured list with blood clots in his right arm, faced only four batters during his one-inning stint in a game played before a crowd of 1,339 at San Francisco’s spring training home park.
The right-hander, whose 259 appearances since 2015 are the most for a Colorado pitcher during that span, took over in the fifth inning and promptly fanned Wilmer Flores, the first Giants hitter he faced.
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Oberg then induced Buster Posey to ground out before allowing a two-out single to Austin Slater. Oberg finished his outing, getting Brandon Crawford on an infield pop out.
In comments made to the media, including Rox Pile, on Thursday morning, Colorado manager Bud Black indicated Oberg was ready to take the mound.
"“He feels good,” Black said of the bullpen standout whose 3.85 earned run average stands seventh all-time among Rockies relievers.“He has checked off each box of progression that pitchers need to check off before they pitch in a game. (His) arm feels great. His stuff is going to be fine. He is still building up, working into his stuff. It is going to be 92, 93 miles an hour, 94 … with a good slider, a good change. He is going to give us an inning tomorrow. But mentally and physically he is confident where he is.”"
Oberg pitched sparingly in spring training a year ago (2.2 innings pitched in three appearances). In Scottsdale a year ago, he was battling back from a blood clot in his right arm in August of 2019.
The injury stopped a stellar campaign for the Rockies 15th-round choice in the 2012 draft. He fashioned a 6-1 record in 2019 and his 2.25 ERA was third among National League relief pitchers.
Diaz, after his perfect day at the plate Friday, is now hitting .500 (7-for-14) in spring training.
His first homer of the spring was a two-out blast to left field that capped a four-run Colorado fourth inning. The frame was started by Story’s third roundtripper of Cactus League action — a shot to left center field.
Diaz, who is battling Dom Nunez for the starting catcher position, has three doubles and has knocked in four runs this spring. His OPS is now 1.462.
German Marquez started for the Rockies against San Francisco. After surrendering an unearned run in the first, he was touched for two runs in the second and another in the fourth before being replaced. He permitted six hits with three walks in 3.0-plus innings.
Jordan Sheffield, who was selected by the Rockies from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Rule 5 Draft in December 2020, was touched for four runs on two hits and four walks in one inning of relief as the right-hander could not protect an 8-5 Colorado lead in the seventh inning.
The scheduled nine-inning contest was shortened to eight innings.