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News » Colorado Rockies Notes, Quotes 2009-02-27

Colorado Rockies Notes, Quotes 2009-02-27

Colorado Rockies Notes, Quotes 2009-02-27
--INF/OF Ian Stewart (left biceps strain) sat out the Feb. 26 game against the White Sox. He is expected to be part of the battle for the left field job.

--As LHP Jeff Francis' shoulder problems lingered in the offseason, the Rockies made a contingency move by acquiring durable RHP Jason Marquis from the Cubs in January. Earlier, the Rockies acquired LHP Greg Smith from the A's in the Matt Holliday deal.

While Marquis is a proven major leaguer and Smith isn't, both moves added to the Rockies inventory of starters, which is deeper than in past years and will better help them withstand the loss of Francis.

Marquis is part of a rotation that includes RHPs Aaron Cook and Ubaldo Jimenez, and LHP Jorge De La Rosa. Smith will be part of what should be spirited competition for the final spot in the rotation where the other candidates are LHP Franklin Morales and RHPs Jason Hirsh, Greg Reynolds, Josh Fogg and Matt Belisle.

LHP Glendon Rusch started and relieved for the Rockies last year but this spring will pitch only out of bullpen, where both Rusch and the Rockies feel he can be most effective.

"I didn't really profile myself as somebody competing for that fifth spot," Rusch said. "I see myself in the same role as last year -- in long relief, a spot starter. I had a pretty good understanding of that."

--RHP Jason Hirsh, who turned 27 on Feb. 20, realizes he's at a crucial point in his major league career. He was the centerpiece acquisition from Houston in the Dec. 2006 trade that also netted CF Willy Taveras and RHP Taylor Buchholz and sent RHP Jason Jennings to the Astros.

Hirsh, who has one minor league option remaining, was slowed by ankle and leg injuries in 2007 when he went 5-7 with a 4.81 ERA in 19 starts for the Rockies. Las year, he battled a shoulder problem that kept him at Class AAA before he appeared in four games, one start, for the Rockies, going 0-0 with an 8.31 ERA.

"At this point, for me, it's time to put up or shut up," Hirsh said. "There's no more second chances. I've been telling everybody it's time for me to kind of realize that I have the ability to play at this level and that now is the time to do it. I can't wait anymore."

--LHP Jorge De La Rosa has opted not to pitch for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. "I wanted to play, but I wouldn't get the same work in if I stay here in camp," he said. "I need to stay here."

De La Rosa had been projected to be the Rockies' fifth starter but has moved up to fourth with LHP Jeff Francis sidelined with a shoulder injury. Rockies special assistant Vinny Castilla will manage Team Mexico, and he called earlier in the offseason to let De La Rosa know how much he wanted the pitcher on the team.

The Rockies are happy De La Rosa will remain in camp. He went 10-8 with a 4.92 ERA last year but went 7-3 with a 3.08 ERA after the All-Star break. De La Rosa threw 130 innings last year, the same total he had with the Royals in 2007, and he has never exceeded that number of innings in a single season in the majors.

He plans to shoulder the biggest workload of his career, a plan that could have been disrupted by leaving spring training for a few weeks to participate in the WBC.

--Manager Clint Hurdle began spring training on the final year of his contract. But unlike two years ago, when that same situation existed, he's not going to be happily surprised on Opening Day. In 2007, the Rockies picked up Hurdle's option for 2008 on Opening Day and added the 2009 season.

Hurdle doesn't seem bothered by the uncertainty surrounding his future.

"For me, the length of my contract doesn't define me," Hurdle said. "The contract is not my motivation. My desire to manage this ballclub is, because I am passionate about this organization and its fan base. I love every day that I am on the job. That's not going to change."

--RHP Jason Grilli reported to camp on the morning of Feb. 18. He arrived four days after pitchers were scheduled to report because of the death of his 88-year-old grandmother. He will leave camp next week to play for Italy in the World Baseball Classic.

--C Yorvit Torrealba arrived in camp Feb. 19 for the first full-squad workout. He was delayed in Venezuela following the death of a cousin. The only player missing was INF Luis Gonzalez, who was having visa problems in Venezuela. Gonzalez played for the Rockies from 2004-2006 and twice was their second baseman on Opening Day. He is returning to the Rockies organization after two years in Japan, where he was suspended last year and banned for 2009 for the use of amphetamines.

--C Sal Fasano, who signed a minor league contract shortly before the start of spring training, was going to play for Italy in the World Baseball Classic but opted against it. With C Chris Iannetta leaving camp to play for Team USA, the Rockies want Fasano to remain to provide catching depth.

--INF Omar Quintanilla turned down an opportunity to play for Mexico in the WBC, saying he wanted to take advantage of every opportunity possible to make the Rockies. He said matters would be different if he were a lock to make the Opening Day roster.

Quintanilla is the likely backup middle infielder. In addition to being a superb defensive player, Quintanilla provides a left-handed alternative if manager Clint Hurdle wants to rest SS Troy Tulowitzki and 2B Clint Barmes, both right-handed hitters. Last year, Quintanilla showed gap power as he hit .238 in 81 games with 17 doubles, two homers and 15 RBI.

--In his September stint with the Rockies, CF Dexter Fowler was wiry. Now a better description would be muscular. Fowler, who is 6-foot-4 and considered the best position prospect in the Rockies system, has grown from 176 to 193 pounds after training this offseason at the Creative Artists' Agency (CAA) facility in Bradenton, Fla.

The switch-hitting Fowler played in the Futures Game and for Team USA in the Beijing Olympics last year. He hit .335 at Class AA Tulsa with nine homers and 64 RBI in 108 games with a .431 on-base percentage.

Fowler is expected to get a look at all three outfield positions in Cactus League games, but seems destined to open the season at Class AAA Colorado Springs, where he has never played a day. Manager Clint Hurdle said, "Wherever he goes, he needs playing time. I want to make that loud and clear."

--The Rockies are looking to move to the Phoenix area for spring training, most likely in 2011. They have trained in Tucson since their inception in 1993 but can opt out of their lease there because the White Sox left Tucson for a new spring training complex they're sharing with the Dodgers in Glendale, Ariz. That move left the Rockies and Diamondbacks as the only remaining clubs in Tucson.

The Rockies looked into remaining in the Tucson area, but local officials have been unable to secure financing to build a new facility. The Rockies' most likely option will be a shared complex with the Diamondbacks on the Gila River Indian Reservation near Chandler, which is on the south side of metropolitan Phoenix.

BY THE NUMBERS: .370 -- Average last season against left-handed pitchers for left-handed hitting Ian Stewart. He went 20-for-54 with six doubles, four homers, 17 RBI and a .704 slugging percentage.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We are going to give Seth the opportunity to run out there first and see where it goes from there." -- Manager Clint Hurdle on Seth Smith getting the chance to be the regular in left field, where candidates include Ian Stewart, Carlos Gonzalez, Matt Murton and Dan Ortmeier.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: February 27, 2009

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