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News » Colorado Rockies Notes, Quotes 2009-04-04

Colorado Rockies Notes, Quotes 2009-04-04

Colorado Rockies Notes, Quotes 2009-04-04
--CF Dexter Fowler, who has yet to play at Class AAA, forced his way onto the Opening Day roster with a strong spring. The 23-year-old Fowler, a switch hitter who is the Rockies' best defensive outfielder, began exhibition play 3-for-20 with 10 strikeouts but then went 19-for-50 with seven strikeouts. Fowler's improvement is the result of diligently doing extra work in the batting cage each morning with hitting coach Don Baylor, who took away the split-hand grip Fowler was using while batting left-handed. That change has enabled Fowler to hit the ball with more authority.

"From the tape I saw early, back in December, I could tell he had a lot of work to do," Baylor said. "He started out in spring, and he was really struggling. But every week since then, he's just gotten better and better. We worked every morning. I'm happy for him. I'm thrilled for him, really."

Manager Clint Hurdle said Fowler will bat first or second when he starts. He can be used as a defensive replacement in center field, with CF Ryan Spilborghs possibly shifting to left field.

"It will be our responsibility to continue his growth and development," Hurdle said, "and his responsibility to keep his focus and discipline."

Fowler played at Class AA Tulsa last year and went 4-for-26 in 13 September games with the Rockies last season. He becomes the first Rockies player to jump to the big leagues from Class AA since SS Troy Tulowitzki in August 2006.

--RHPs Huston Street and Manuel Corpas competed all spring for the closer's job, and Street was announced as the winner on Thursday. Both have closed in the past and both lost that job last year, Corpas with the Rockies and Street with the A's. Corpas will be the primary right-handed setup man and eighth-inning bridge to Street.

Corpas went 0-0 with a 0.90 ERA in 10 games with four walks and five strikeouts in 10 innings but has averaged 89 mph with his sinker, two miles less than his average. He said he's working on driving his left arm toward the plate instead of the ground and in addition to that mechanical matter is working on his tempo.

"I know I'm ready and I did my job in spring training, but it's not my decision," Corpas said. "I'm not mad. That's a teammate. I feel better than last year at spring training. My only problem is my mechanics, and I'm a little bit slow on the mound. I throw one pitch instead of getting the ball, going boom-boom-boom. I'm taking my time; I'm working on that."

Street was bothered by a right quadriceps strain early in camp, which skewed his numbers. He went 0-0 with a 5.23 ERA in 10 games with two walks and four strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings. However, Street was not scored upon in seven of his final eight outings and during that stretch allowed one run and five hits in eight innings. Referring to beginning the season as the closer, Street said, "It's obviously what I wanted. I think it's important to realize that this is just the beginning. This is the start of a huge responsibility to the team."

--The Rockies set their rotation to begin the season with RHP Aaron Cook, RHP Ubaldo Jimenez and LHP Franklin Morales scheduled to start the first three games at Arizona on April 6-8. RHP Jason Marquis will start the home opener April 10 against the Phillies, followed by LHP Jorge De La Rosa on April 11.

Since the Rockies have three scheduled off days in the first 11 days of the season -- April 9, April 14 and April 16 -- they won't need a fifth starter until April 21. And that scheduling will allow them to avoid cutting relievers Matt Belisle and Juan Morillo.

Morillo, who is out of options, will be on the Opening Day roster. Belisle will pitch three innings in a minor league game Sunday in Tucson, and the Rockies could add him to their 25-man roster April 10 when they open their home season against the Phillies.

Belisle's outing Sunday could go a long way to determining if the Rockies add him to their roster. The Rockies want relievers who can work multiple innings, which has been a challenge for Belisle since the strained forearm that slowed him at the start of camp. He made seven exhibition game appearances this spring, working 8 1/3 innings. Only twice did he work more than one inning -- March 25 when he pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings and March 15 when he worked an effortless first inning and allowed one run and three hits in the second inning he worked.

The Rockies slotted Morales to start the third game of the season Wednesday instead of De La Rosa because that schedule worked better should the club decide to send Morales to the minor leagues for regular work before the Rockies would need him a second time -- April 21 at Arizona. The fifth game of the season is set for April 11. If Morales had pitched in that game and then been sent out the next day, he could not have been recalled until April 22, which is why the Rockies felt the need to flip-flop Morales and De La Rosa in the first starts of the season.

The Rockies could send out Morales and then add Belisle as an eighth reliever. The other option, depending on how much use reliever Glendon Rusch gets in the season-opening three-game series at Arizona, is to keep Morales and use him out of the bullpen while he awaits a second start.

--OF Scott Podsednik, who was in camp for the second straight year on a minor league contract but this year lost out to Fowler, was released. He had an April 3 opt-out date in his contract if he wasn't on the big-league roster and might have gone to Class AAA Colorado Springs, but the Rockies didn't have room for him there in the outfield and reluctantly released him.

--RHP Josh Fogg, C Sal Fasano, IF-OF Dan Ortmeier and IF Jonathan Herrera were reassigned to Class AAA and OF Matt Murton and IF Christian Colonel were optioned there. Fogg and Fasano had opt-out dates in their contracts if they found a big-league job but will report to Colorado Springs.

BY THE NUMBERS: 305 -- Groundball outs induced by RHP Aaron Cook last year, which was second in the majors and behind only Arizona's Brandon Webb (319).

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's not a factor for either of us. We have an organization built on trust. He knows what he has to do as a leader. I know what I have to do as a leader. A handshake from the owner is good enough." -- General manager Dan O'Dowd on the fact that he and manager Clint Hurdle are entering the final year of their contracts.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 4, 2009

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