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News » Colorado Rockies Notes, Quotes 2009-01-29


Colorado Rockies Notes, Quotes 2009-01-29


Colorado Rockies Notes, Quotes 2009-01-29
--RHP Ubaldo Jimenez, who has played in just one full major league season, can look forward to plenty more. He signed a four-year, $10 million deal that includes club options for 2013 and 2014.

--Left shoulder inflammation, which made 2008 a forgettable season for LHP Jeff Francis, has bothered him this winter, limiting his offseason activity and ensuring he will be behind other pitchers when spring training begins next month.

"It's been better, but it's getting better, though," Francis said Jan. 23 when asked how his shoulder felt. "It's slow going at best."

Francis has not thrown off a mound this winter. He recently began playing catch for the second time this offseason, at a distance of about 90 feet.

During the first week of January, Francis said he underwent another MRI exam, which revealed nothing in the way of damage to his shoulder.

Francis, who turned 28 earlier this month, went 4-10 with a 5.01 ERA last season, when he was limited to 24 starts. Left shoulder inflammation put him on the disabled list from June 29 through Aug. 5. After being activated, Francis made seven starts, the last on Sept. 12, before being shut down for the balance of the season because of his ailing shoulder.

"It's frustrating," Francis said. "I'd hoped it would go away with rest, that I would rest up and I would feel good and I could have a regular offseason. Shoulder aside, I have. My body feels great. I'm in good shape. I've gotten back to the good workouts that have helped me a lot. My shoulder's not cooperating as much as I'd hoped it would."

--The Rockies avoided arbitration with five players just before salary figures were to be exchanged. 2B Clint Barmes, who made $405,000 last year, agreed to a $1,625,000 deal. RHP Buchholz ($399,000 last year) got a raise to $1,055,000, with $20,000 bonuses for 40 and 50 games finished. RHP Jason Grilli ($420,000 last year) will make $800,000 this year. RHP Huston Street ($3.3 million last year) will have a $4.5 million salary, and LHP Jorge De La Rosa ($1,025,000 last year) will get $2 million with $25,000 bonuses for 180, 190, 200 and 210 innings pitched.

--Eleven players from the Rockies organization were named to the provisional 45-man rosters for the 16 countries participating in the World Baseball Classic in March.

RF Brad Hawpe and C Chris Iannetta were on the Team USA roster. INF Omar Quintanilla (Mexico), RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (Dominican Republic), RHP Jason Grilli (Italy), RHP Manuel Corpas (Panama), LHP Jorge De La Rosa (Mexico), OF Carlos Gonzalez (Venezuela) and LHP Jeff Francis (Canada) were on the rosters submitted by their countries.

Francis won't be participating because of insurance rules prohibiting players who were inactive at the end of last season, as a recurrence of shoulder inflammation sidelined him. Francis also hasn't thrown off a mound this winter.

De La Rosa is not expected to play for Mexico, which will be managed by Rockies special assistant Vinny Castilla. The Rockies prefer De La Rosa remain in spring training, his first with them, and solidify his spot in the rotation.

Other members of the Rockies organization on provisional WBC rosters are LHP Adam Bright (Australia) and RHP Ching Lung Lo (Chinese Taipei). Both spent last season at Class AA Tulsa, where Bright, 24, went 3-8 with a 4.41 ERA and Lo, 23, went 8-8 with a 5.25 ERA.

--OF Carlos Gonzalez arrived in Denver on Jan. 22 on a flight from Venezuela where he was playing for Zulia in the playoffs, allowing him to participate in the final day of the Rockies' three-week winter development program on Jan. 23. Gonzalez was expected to remain in Denver over the weekend to participate in the club's first fan-fest, which is being held for some season ticket holders.

Save for the fact Gonzalez, 23, acquired from Oakland in the Matt Holliday trade in November, didn't have the chance to spend an appreciable amount of time in Coors Field and around any Rockies players or officials, his absence from the winter development program probably worked to his advantage because he was playing regularly.

In 14 playoff games with Zulia, Gonzalez hit .289 (13-for-45) with three doubles, two homers and six RBIs. Strikeouts were an alarming problem last season for Gonzalez, but in the playoffs he had nearly as many walks (11) as strikeouts (13), and he compiled a .439 on-base percentage and .489 slugging percentage.

Gonzalez, who bats and throws left-handed, has the potential to be a multifaceted player and has some superb tools, but home run power likely isn't going to be one of his assets. He has a line-drive swing, rather than one with natural loft, but that certainly won't preclude Gonzalez from being a productive hitter, especially at Coors Field.

--RHP Taylor Buchholz held opposing hitters to a .188 average, the third-lowest by a National League reliever, and was more effective against right-handed hitters (.180 average in 133 at-bats) than left-handers (.198 in 106 at-bats) last year. Buchholz became the Rockies primary setup man in a breakthrough season -- he was 6-6 with a 2.17 ERA in 63 games -- that ended on a down note.

Buchholz went 0-2 with a 7.36 in four September appearances and didn't pitch after Sept. 9 because of shoulder soreness. He said rest has healed his shoulder, and after starting to throw three weeks ago, he threw off a mound for the first time on Jan. 21.

After thriving in a relief role last year, Buchholz set a goal to one day be a closer. While that remains an objective, Buchholz has no guarantee he'll again be the primary right-handed setup man what with Huston Street and Manuel Corpas competing for the closer role and the loser likely to be the right-handed bridge to the closer.

"I'm going to go into camp with an open mind," Buchholz said. "In baseball, you never know what's going to happen. I'm just going to go into spring training and, if possible, try to get a prime spot in the bullpen."

--RHP Matt Belisle, who signed a minor league contract that will pay him $800,000 if he's in the big leagues, might never see a day at the Class AAA level in the Rockies organization. Belisle can request his release if he's not on the 25-man roster by April 3, three days before the start of the regular season.

BY THE NUMBERS: 2.61 -- ERA for LHP Jorge De La Rosa in his final eight starts last season, a reason the Rockies have slotted him into their 2009 rotation. In those games, De La Rosa allowed 38 hits in 48 1/3 innings with 21 walks and 40 strikeouts.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Obviously, I want the ninth inning, and I'm going to do everything I can to try and get it, but it doesn't mean I'm pulling against anybody else. It just means I'm going to do the best I can do and let the results take care of themselves and come Opening Day, I'm going to be a Rockie and I want the Rockies to win." -- RHP Huston Street, on competing for the closer's job with RHP Manuel Corpas in spring training.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: January 29, 2009

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