The Colorado Rockies will have some roster decisions to make in the coming days, and the emergence of Connor Joe at the plate could make one decision a little easier when it comes to first base.
As we reported on Thursday, first baseman C.J. Cron is starting to take steps to return from a lower back strain. Before going on the injured list on May 10 (retroactive to May 7), the 31-year-old Cron had started 27 games for the Rockies at first base.
Also on May 7, the Rockies called up Connor Joe from Triple-A to make his Colorado debut. Signed to a minor league contract in the offseason, Joe impressed in spring training, posting a .366/.489/.711 slash line along with three homers and 11 RBI in 38 at-bats. There was even talk that Joe might sneak his way onto the Opening Day roster, but it was not to be.
However, now that Joe is with the Rockies, he is making his presence felt. With two hits and two walks in his first four plate appearances on Thursday night, the 28-year-old Joe boosted his batting average to .429 and logged his first three RBI of the season with a first-inning RBI double (see video below) and a fourth-inning two-run single.
The double not only was the first extra-base hit of his Major League career, but also resulted in his first MLB RBI.
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While Joe has excelled at the plate (not only with his hitting but also his patience as he has drawn eight walks in 23 plate appearances), veteran slugger Matt Adams has not and has seen his playing time diminish as a result. Adams, signed by Colorado in late March and reportedly impressing in at-bats at the alternate site, has not found his stride at the plate with the Rockies. Entering Thursday’s game, Adams was 2-for-19 and had struck out five times.
Following Thursday’s win, Colorado manager Bud Black told reporters, including Rox Pile, that Adams was unavailable on Thursday because of an injury. He will update the media on Adams’ status on Friday.
Adams and Joe both play first base, along with Cron as well as Ryan McMahon and Josh Fuentes. The position is crowded and, when Cron returns, Colorado will have to make a decision. On the surface, the decision to take Adams off the roster seems to be the logical one.
However, Adams provides a left-handed bat and is a veteran, two factors that are important considering McMahon is the only other left-hander of the group mentioned above and his defense has been too valuable at third and second this season to put him at first unless an emergency warranted it.
In a season where the Rockies are closer to chasing the top overall pick in the 2022 MLB draft than chasing a postseason spot, seeing if Joe can be a part of Colorado’s future would seemingly make more sense than investing in at-bats for Adams. Cron is likely a stop-gap until Colton Welker or Michael Toglia can eventually take over at first base (likely later in the 2022 season).
By the way, there is still some time until Cron returns, but Brendan Rodgers won’t be far behind him if his rehab from a hamstring injury continues to positively progress. That will give the Rockies another position player roster decision that needs to be made.
So will Joe’s emergence mean Adams’ time in Colorado is short-lived? We’ll likely find out as soon as Cron is ready to return to the Rockies in the coming days.