Rockies

Kiszla: Slumping Rockies shortstop Trevor Story might need trip to minors to fix holes in his swing
When does a slump turn into a big stinking mess? For all the numbers crunched in baseball, there is no definitive answer. But after 100 at-bats, you begin to see clues. And what the Rockies see from shortstop Trevor Story spells trouble. If Story doesn’t find his stroke, and find it quickly, the Rockies will be forced to seriously contemplate sending their 24-year-old shortstop back to the minor leagues for significant rehabilitation work on his swing. Although Story entered the game Saturday night against Arizona with an anemic .155 batting average and a National League-worst 43 strikeouts in 112 plate appearances, the issue is not how much he’s hurting the ballclub with every runner stranded in scoring position. What Rockies management must consider is whether the cumulative effect of all those swings and misses is damaging the long-term future of Story, who could be this franchise’s shortstop for the next 10 years. A year ago, Story launched 27 home runs and a thousand delightfully silly puns to describe all the smiles he painted on a rookie season that was fantastic by any measure, even when the fluky bad luck of a thumb injury shut him down in August. But Story has had precious little to write home about in 2017. Too often, it is home run or bust. With a long swing that starts so late that it catches nothing but air, Story is swinging through fastballs over the plate and chasing breaking stuff out of the zone. There is a hands-on, active-teaching approach to pull Story out of his slump in regards to “mental approach, physical approach, the hitting-fundamental approach,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. Maybe we should have seen this trouble coming. The swing of Story has always had holes. In 2013, when he played high-A ball in Modesto, Story struck out 183 times in 497 at-bats. The Rockies, however, always saw him come out of a funk before, which gives them hope these bad times won’t linger and fester. Know what might be the toughest part of a slump for a young hitter? Even worse than the self-doubt is all that buzzing in your ears. “When things are not going a player’s way, everybody’s intention is to help the player,” Black said. “And everybody means me, hitting coaches, teammates, parents, high school coaches, next-door neighbor, sportswriters, your barista, Uber drivers. … You’re hearing from everybody. What happens is some players listen to it all. And it can be overwhelming.” David Zalubowski, The Associated PressColorado Rockies’ Trevor Story studies a tablet before facing Washington Nationals relief pitcher Matt Albers during the seventh inning of a baseball game Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Denver. Washington won 16-5. Story has not wilted under the strain of seeing his ugly statistics flashed on the scoreboard when he walks toward home plate. There might not be stronger evidence of Story’s mental toughness than his work in the field. It’s obvious he was taking notes as a rookie, because his positioning and anticipation have made him a smarter, better shortstop. Misery loves company, and Story is far from alone. Has the lumber in the Colorado dugout been invaded by beetles? This team entered May in first place of the NL West despite words I never thought would be written about a baseball team that plays 5,280 feet above sea level: The Rockies can’t hit. Carlos Gonzalez is off to such a sketchy start that newcomer Ian Desmond might get more starts in the outfield than at first base, at least in the short-term. DJ LeMahieu has scuffled, and even Nolan Arenado has suffered through a spell of 25 at-bats where it appeared as if he didn’t have a clue. Related ArticlesMay 6, 2017 Saunders: Rockies coming face-to-face with Carlos Gonzalez quandary May 6, 2017 Charlie Blackmon’s hitting philosophy might be grim, but it’s working May 6, 2017 Rockies’ Bud Black challenges Tyler Chatwood to be “one of best pitchers in National League” May 5, 2017 Nolan Arenado calls 10-day stretch a big homestand for Rockies May 2, 2017 Rockies Mailbag: Should Colorado move Ian Desmond to the OF and sell off CarGo? “At any one time, we’ve maybe had three guys really swinging well, maybe a couple swinging OK, and two or three not swinging well at all,” Black said. “When teams are rolling, they have five, six guys really swinging well.” Pitching, from rookie starter Kyle Freeland to lights-out closer Greg Holland, has made Colorado hard to beat on the road. But the Rockies don’t rock Coors Field unless they rake. Baseball lovers go to Blake Street for the fireworks. And the Rockies delivered Saturday, as each of the eight paid hitters in the lineup contributed at least one solid knock during a 9-1 victory. Story broke out o [...]
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Tyler Anderson regains his form as Rockies blast 14 hits in rout of Diamondbacks
The Rockies entered Saturday night’s game searching for two things. One, a solid start from struggling left-hander Tyler Anderson. Two, a consistent, sustained performance from their sputtering offense. The Rockies hit the jackpot in a 9-1 romp over Arizona at Coors Field, a victory that increased their lead to 1 ½ games over the Diamondbacks in the National League West. Prior to the game, manager Bud Black said: “Tyler doesn’t need any magic formula, he just needs to string good pitches together and do it inning after inning.” Anderson obliged — after a shaky beginning that included some infield rollers for hits by the D-Backs. Masterfully mixing his fastball, changeup and a cutter that Black said was the best it’s been all season, Anderson limited the Diamondbacks to one run on six hits over six innings. The left-hander tied a career-high with 10 strikeouts. The last six outs he recorded, and nine of his last 11 outs, came via strikeouts. “I just threw a lot more quality strikes and I kept the ball down a lot better,” said Anderson,who improved to 2-4 and whittled his ERA from from 7.71 to 6.69. “I had a lot more balls at the bottom of the zone. In general, I mixed my pitches a lot more than I had been.” All told, Arizona struck out 13 times, prompting manager Tony Lovullo to say: “That’s not what you expect when you come into this ballpark, so it’s a little bit surprising. But I don’t think it’s any indication of where our hitters are, I think it’s more a credit to what their guys did tonight.” Powered by home runs from Mark Reynolds and Nolan Arenado, and three-hit performances by Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu, Colorado’s offense finally found a higher gear, cranking out 14 hits and batting 6-for-12 with runners in scoring position. “We just stayed on the attack and that was nice to see,” Black said. “We swung the bats well and I thought we had a good plan going in.” The Rockies ambushed Arizona left-hander Patrick Corbin in the first inning, using a double by Blackmon, a single by LeMahieu, a wild pitch, an RBI single by Arenado and a two-run homer by Reynolds to stake a 4-0 lead. Reynolds, a nonroster invitee to spring training, leads the Rockies with 10 homers and 26 RBIs. He didn’t hit home run No.10 last year until July 21 and finished the season with 14. “Baseball players get on some hot streaks sometimes and I just happen to be on one to start the year,” said Reynolds, who’s batting .315. “I’ve been on the roller coaster many times in my career, so I’m just trying to keep working and stay with my approach before games and hope it translates to the field.” BOX SCORE: Rockies 9, Diamondbacks 1 Related ArticlesMay 6, 2017 Kiszla: Slumping Rockies shortstop Trevor Story might need trip to minors to fix holes in his swing May 6, 2017 Saunders: Rockies coming face-to-face with Carlos Gonzalez quandary May 6, 2017 Charlie Blackmon’s hitting philosophy might be grim, but it’s working May 6, 2017 Rockies’ Bud Black challenges Tyler Chatwood to be “one of best pitchers in National League” May 2, 2017 Rockies Mailbag: Should Colorado move Ian Desmond to the OF and sell off CarGo? A two-run fourth put Colorado in command. Blackmon scorched a run-scoring triple down the first-base line to score Anderson and then trotted home on LeMahieu’s single to right. Blackmon, who hit five triples last season, already has four after 31 games this season. The first three innings were a high-wire act for Anderson, but he managed to hold the Diamondbacks to a single run, that coming when Gregor Blanco drove in Brandon Drury with a single in the second. Anderson was rescued by some excellent pitches, and with a little help from his four-time Gold Glove third baseman. Anderson used a nifty changeup to strike out Jake Lamb with two on in the first inning. In the second, Arenado gobbled up a grounder, scurried to third base and then threw a rocket to first to complete the inning-ending double play. Anderson picked off Nick Ahmed at second base to defuse an Arizona rally in the third — and then he started cruising. He ended the fifth with perhaps his best pitch of the night, striking out Rockies killer Paul Goldschmidt looking at an 88 mph cutter on a 3-2 pitch. Left-hander Chris Rusin got the first save of his career, pitching three scoreless innings to cap off the victory. It was the 18th three-inning save in Rockies history. [...]
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Rockies fall to Diamondbacks as Paul Goldschmidt feasts at Coors Field again
The Rockies opened their longest homestand of the season Friday night with mile-high expectations. Arizona’s Zack Grienke and Paul Goldschmidt quickly brought the Rockies down out of the clouds.. Greinke pitched seven terrific innings, while Goldschmidt continued to feast at one of his favorite venues as the Diamondbacks beat the Rockies 6-3 at Coors Field in front of 30,030 on a perfect spring night. The Rockies have impressed with an 11-5 record on the road, but they lost their fourth consecutive game at home, where they are 7-7.  It would behoove them to improved on that mediocrity over the final nine games of this home set that includes games against the Cubs and Dodgers, both considered playoff candidates. The Rockies made the Diamondbacks nervous in the ninth. Mark Reynolds and Gerardo Parra hit back-to-back singles off reliever Archie Bradley and Trevor Story walked on a 3-2 count to load the bases with no outs. Bradley then struck out Dustin Garneau on what was ruled a foul tip and remained that way after a review. “The ball grazed my pinkie, so it should have been a hit by pitch,” Garneau said. “The umpire (Phil Cuzzi) said it hit the knob of the bat, but it didn’t. It should have scored a run, but he called me out on a foul tip.” A groundout by Pat Valaika scored Reynolds, but closer Fernando Rodney got Charlie Blackmon to pop out to right to end the game. Goldschmidt morphs into Joe DiMaggio when he sees Rockies purple. He batted 3-for-3 with two home runs, a walk and five RBIs, his most since recording a career-high six RBIs on May 17, 2014 vs. the Dodgers. Goldschmidt now has reached base safely in 57 of his last 58 games against Colorado, batting .379 with 48 walks and a .487 on-base percentage during that span. Rockies starter German Marquez threw Goldschmidt two meaty pitches and Goldschmidt devoured them both, hitting a 446-foot solo homer to left-center in the first, and then lining a three-run laser over the left-field wall in the third. Goldschmidt hit a middle-of-the-plate, 94 mph fastball for his first homer and turned on an inside, 98 mph fastball for his second. “They were just two good pitches that he got on top of and got a hold off,” Marquez said. Credit Marquez, a 22-year-old rookie, for at least keeping the Rockies in the game and saving some wear and tear on the bullpen. Arizona reached him for five runs on five hits over six innings. “Later in the game, when I was using my breaking ball, I was being really consistent and I was able to stay later in the game,” said Marquez, who is 0-2 with an 11.70 ERA in two starts at Coors Field. BOX SCORE: Diamondbacks 6, Rockies 3 The vaunted Rockies offense remains in hibernation and is showing only sporadic signs of waking up. Colorado is hitting .250 overall and it’s 135 runs ranks 11th in the National League. Greinke put Rockies bats into a sleeper hold for most of Friday night, which is not that surprising. The veteran right-hander has allowed three or fewer runs in five of his eight career starts at Coors Field. Related ArticlesMay 5, 2017 Nolan Arenado calls 10-day stretch a big homestand for Rockies May 4, 2017 Kyle Freeland pacing a rookie trio that is carrying the Rockies on the road May 4, 2017 Ryan Hanigan arrives just in time to punch the Rockies past the Padres in extra innings May 4, 2017 Rockies rookie Antonio Senzatela earns his biggest award yet — a nickname May 3, 2017 Ian Desmond homers past the Padres as Rockies’ new first baseman arrives with authority “He didn’t make many mistakes, and he really had his slider working,” Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu said of Greinke. “And his fastball. When he’s got that fastball moving down and away and he’s pinpointing that slider, he’s tough.” The Diamondbacks’ ace allowed two runs on six hits, struck out seven and walked none. It was clear early on — when he struck out Nolan Arenado and Ian Desmond on wicked sliders to close out the first inning — that Grienke brought his A-plus stuff to Coors. Playing his first game at Coors Field in a Rockies uniform, Desmond went 0-for-4 and struck out three times. Reynolds, who leads Colorado with nine home runs, mashed a two-out solo homer off Greinke in the fourth to get the Rockies on the board.  Garneau doubled home Parra in the seventh inning for Colorado’s second run off Greinke. [...]
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Fan struck in head with flying bat at Rockies-Padres game
SAN DIEGO — A woman sitting two rows behind the Colorado Rockies’ dugout was struck in the head by a bat that flew out of the hands of Hector Sanchez of the San Diego Padres on Thursday, delaying the game for 13 minutes. The woman and her husband, who was also hit by the bat, were taken to a hospital and their injuries do not appear to be serious, the Padres said in a statement. The woman took the brunt of the impact. She was tended to by medical personnel and was able to walk up the steps to the concourse with an EMT before being taken out in a wheelchair. Her head was bandaged. The Padres said they could not provide any further information. “We never want to see anybody injured while enjoying a game at Petco Park,” the Padres statement said. “Last season, we extended our backstop netting in accordance with Major League Baseball’s recommendations. Any injury at the ballpark warrants evaluation and discussion of current practices.” The bat flew out of Sanchez’s hands as he swung at a pitch from Jake McGee with one out in the ninth. Related ArticlesMay 3, 2017 Ian Desmond homers past the Padres as Rockies’ new first baseman arrives with authority May 3, 2017 Hulu’s new $40 live TV service launches, but not all local channels available in all cities May 3, 2017 Boston sports struggle with perception built on racist past May 3, 2017 Tim Tebow “feels more comfortable” in pro baseball May 2, 2017 Greg Bird placed on DL by Yankees, Jacob Ellsbury out with sore elbow When he saw what happened, Sanchez removed his helmet and took a moment to compose himself. “It’s pretty bad,” Sanchez said after the game. “I feel really, really bad about it, especially when you see the lady, it’s really sad. I just feel sorry for her.” [...]
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Rockies, now dealing with a bullpen surplus, send Carlos Estevez to Triple-A
SAN DIEGO — Already wrestling with the uncomfortable situation of finding a place for Ian Desmond, the Rockies on Wednesday squeezed lefty reliever Mike Dunn back on their roster. It resulted in another difficult decision. Colorado sent down young reliever Carlos Estevez to Triple-A Albuquerque, but not because he was obviously struggling. Dunn’s return from the disabled list, after his back spasms calmed, required a roster move. “That tells us we feel good about the depth of our bullpen, having to send down Carlos like that,” Colorado manager Bud Black said. Related ArticlesMay 3, 2017 Ryan Hanigan called up to the Rockies, who gain a veteran catcher with a scout’s eye May 3, 2017 Antonio Senzatela, Greg Holland earn NL monthly awards, highlighting a Rockies pitching turnaround May 3, 2017 Tony Wolters leaves Rockies game with a concussion May 2, 2017 Rockies cannot solve Padres, fall out of first place in another loss to the bottom-dwellers May 2, 2017 Rockies are still evolving under Bud Black. And Ian Desmond brings more change. Desmond, who started a second consecutive game at first base Wednesday, put veteran Mark Reynolds to the bench again, despite his team-high eight home runs. But the Rockies surplus of relievers is a new problem. Estevez was a paperwork victim. He pitched well over 11 appearances, with a 2.61 ERA over 10 2/3 innings. But a 12th appearance, last week against the Nationals, resulted in seven runs in just 2/3 of an inning, ballooning his season ERA to 7.94. His ERA, though, was likely not the reason behind Estevez’s demotion. With a second-year player such as Estevez, the Rockies have the option to shuttle him between the major leagues and Triple-A. “He is going to work on his fastball command,” Black said, “but I suspect he will be back up to help us. He is going to force us to bring him back.” As an example, veteran Jordan Lyles, who has 10.03 ERA over 11 2/3 innings, does not have the option of a demotion unless he is designated for assignment. The Rockies risk losing Lyles to another team on the waiver wire if they designate him. Dunn’s return reunites a three-lefty bullpen that excelled through April, including Chris Rusin and Jake McGee. Dunn had a 1.17 ERA over 7 2/3 innings before a minor back injury put him on the DL. He has allowed just one run, while striking out 10 and walking just two. [...]
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Ryan Hanigan called up to the Rockies, who gain a veteran catcher with a scout’s eye
SAN DIEGO — For the first time in nine years, Ryan Hanigan, a catcher’s catcher, a backstop in the old-school sense with the bruises to prove it, started a season in the minor-leagues. Not ideal. But at least he did not have to catch a knuckleball. “That’s no joke, man,” Hanigan said. The Rockies on Wednesday called up the 36-year-old catcher to replace 25-year-old Tony Wolters, who was placed in Major League Baseball’s concussion protocol after taking a backswing to the temple Tuesday night against the Padres. Hanigan’s arrival gives the Rockies, and by extension their pitching staff, a veteran presence that was otherwise absent. Hanigan has played 10 seasons for the Reds, Rays and Red Sox. He has squatted behind most hitters in the league. But no task, perhaps, was as difficult as catching Boston knuckleballer Steven Wright last season. Related ArticlesMay 3, 2017 Rockies, now dealing with a bullpen surplus, send Carlos Estevez to Triple-A May 3, 2017 Antonio Senzatela, Greg Holland earn NL monthly awards, highlighting a Rockies pitching turnaround May 3, 2017 Tony Wolters leaves Rockies game with a concussion May 2, 2017 Rockies cannot solve Padres, fall out of first place in another loss to the bottom-dwellers May 2, 2017 Rockies are still evolving under Bud Black. And Ian Desmond brings more change. “I take pride in being a weapon back there, throwing guys out, picking guys off,” Hanigan said. “With a knuckleballer, you’re just worried about catching the dang ball.” The Rockies in late March, near the end of spring training, signed Hanigan to fill out a reserve of catchers heavey with inexperience. Wolters and 29-year-old Dustin Garneau, who started Wednesday, have less than three years combined service time in the major leagues. Hanigan’s charge, aside from filling in for Wolters during his recovery from a head injury, will be to help tutor the youngest rotation in baseball, a starting five that averages 24.2 years of age. Whatever he lacks in knowledge of his own pitcher’s arsenals, he makes up for in wide knowledge of who they will face. “I know the hitters, the teams, I’ve played against all these guys,” Hanigan said. “I have a good understanding of how to pitch teams. I just have to learn our guys.” [...]
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Greg Bird placed on DL by Yankees, Jacob Ellsbury out with sore elbow
NEW YORK — Slumping first baseman Greg Bird has been placed on the 10-day disabled list by the New York Yankees because of a bruised right ankle. Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury also is out of the lineup Tuesday night against the Toronto Blue Jays with an injury to his left elbow. Yankees manager Joe Girardi says an MRI revealed a bruised nerve, and the team will wait a couple of days before making a decision about whether Ellsbury needs to go on the DL. Bird has been playing with a sore ankle off and on since fouling a ball off his foot during one of the final games of his outstanding spring training. He is hitting .100 with one home run and three RBIs in 60 at-bats. Ellsbury got hurt when he ran face-first into the padded wall to make a terrific catch Monday. [...]
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Rockies Mailbag: Should Colorado move Ian Desmond to the OF and sell off CarGo?
Denver Post sports writer Patrick Saunders posts his Rockies Mailbag every other week on Tuesdays during the season. Pose a Rockies – or MLB – related question for the Rockies Mailbag. Why is it the ocean air’s effect on a baseball is completely acceptable for a Cy Young award winner but mountain air is a massive asterisk against a position player for MVP or batting title? The San Francisco organization and media are the first to complain about Coors Field every season.  — Alan Horsnail, Broomfield Alan, I’m with you on this one. Yes, Coors Field is the best offensive ballpark in the majors, but too many members of the national media are quick to dismiss a Rockies player’s performance because he plays his home games at 5,280 feet. Not that they don’t have ammunition. For instance, MVP candidate Nolan Arenado hit .312 with 25 homers, 85 RBIs and a 1.030 OPS at Coors last year. On the road, he batted .277 with 16 homers, 48 RBIs and an .832 OPS. But I think you are right about those pitchers who play their games at sea level. The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw is a Hall of Fame pitcher, no doubt about it, but even he knows he’s blessed to pitch at Dodger Stadium. Here’s what Kershaw said recently after beating the Rockies in Los Angeles: “Obviously this is a place that’s home so you’re comfortable here. You know what to expect. That’s the beauty of pitching in LA, right? It’s perfect weather all the time. Perfect mound. Just kind of a perfect storm of a situation. You would hope that you do pitch well at your home park. It just so happens that mine’s probably the best place to pitch in baseball.” For the record, Kershaw is 74-30 with a 1.99 ERA at home in his career, vs. 56-32 with a 2.81 ERA on the road. At Coors Field, he’s 8-4 with a 4.71 ERA. Related ArticlesMay 2, 2017 David Dahl’s return to Rockies outfield “still a ways away,” says Bud Black May 1, 2017 Rockies’ defense, paced by Nolan Arenado’s magic, becoming a team strength April 30, 2017 Ian Desmond comes off disabled list, goes 1-for-5 in Rockies’ loss to Diamondbacks April 30, 2017 Rockies’ German Marquez takes big step forward with six scoreless innings vs. D-Backs April 30, 2017 Daniel Descalso’s walk-off home run sinks Rockies in 13th With Mark Reynolds playing so well, when Ian Desmond returns, do you see the Rockies selling off Carlos Gonzalez early and putting Desmond back in the outfield? — Aaron Hurt, Omaha, Nebraska Aaron, first I have a question for you. Why are so many people so interested in the Rockies trading away Carlos Gonzalez or Charlie Blackmon? Is it a fantasy baseball thing? Is it just a fascination with trades? Is it because they think the Rockies will acquire frontline pitching? Anyway, I don’t think the Rockies will be “selling off” CarGo early. Yes, it is the last year of his contract, but I think his future is linked to the team’s performance, and to his performance. CarGo’s in a big-time slump — hitting .216 with an .095 average with runners in scoring position — heading into Tuesday night’s game at San Diego. The Rockies aren’t going to get any value for him right now. Gonzalez eventually will get hot, and if the Rockies are in contention at the trade deadline, they’ll likely hang onto him, unless they can swing a deal for pitching, but I wouldn’t count on that. Take Our Poll (function(d,c,j){if(!d.getElementById(j)){var pd=d.createElement(c),s;pd.id=j;pd.src='http://www.denverpost.com/wp-content/plugins/polldaddy/js/polldaddy-shortcode.js';s=d.getElementsByTagName(c)[0];s.parentNode.insertBefore(pd,s);} else if(typeof jQuery !=='undefined')jQuery(d.body).trigger('pd-script-load');}(document,'script','pd-polldaddy-loader')); Hey Patrick, I saw a story Nick Groke wrote on the Rockies having the youngest rotation in Major League Baseball. Why doesn’t Colorado ever bring in a true veteran who isn’t on the back end of his career to show the young guys how to be successful? The young guns need a veteran presence to show them the ropes. — JB, Aurora JB, first off all, let me say that “Nickels” did a nice job with that story. It’s well worth a read. Now, on to your question. The Rockies have tried bringing in veterans in the past to show guys the ropes. Do Kyle Kendrick, Jamie Moyer and Roy Oswalt ring a bell? That didn’t work out very well. The truth is, effective, big-name, free-agent starting pitchers aren’t not likely to sign with Colorado. And it really doesn’t make sense for the Rockies to trade for an older starting pitcher. I like what they are doing now by developing their own starters. The addition of manager B [...]
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Noah Syndergaard on 10-day DL with partial tear of right lat muscle
ATLANTA — The New York Mets placed ace right-hander Noah Syndergaard on the 10-day disabled list on Monday after a MRI revealed a partial tear of his right lat muscle. The Mets said there is no timetable for Syndergaard’s return. Syndergaard left his start Sunday against Washington in pain, a development that came only a couple days after he said he felt fine and refused a MRI. Syndergaard (1-2) allowed five runs on five hits in the first inning of a 23-5 loss to the Nationals. He grimaced after throwing a second-inning strike to Bryce Harper and reached for his right armpit. The Mets’ immediate concern was a strained lat. The MRI at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery revealed the partial tear. The loss of Syndergaard comes as the Mets, in last place in the NL East, already are without star slugger Yoenis Cespedes, who was placed on the disabled list Friday with a strained left hamstring. Meanwhile, first baseman Lucas Duda, out with a hyperextended left elbow, had a setback during his minor league rehab assignment and won’t be activated on Monday when eligible to come off the 10-day DL. Infielder Wilmer Flores (right knee infection) also is out. Syndergaard was a late scratch from a scheduled outing last Thursday in New York against Atlanta due to biceps and shoulder discomfort in his pitching arm. He said he felt fine after throwing in the bullpen on Friday, and he refused an MRI. It was not immediately known if the lat muscle injury is related to the previous complaint about his biceps and shoulder discomfort. The Mets, who open a four-game series at Atlanta on Monday night, did not immediately announce a corresponding roster move. The team said general manager Sandy Alderson would discuss the situation before the game. [...]
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Rockies’ defense, paced by Nolan Arenado’s magic, becoming a team strength
Nolan Arenado was ticked off. He had almost pulled off one of the greatest plays of his highlight-filled career. In the third inning of Friday night’s Rockies game at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona’s A.J. Pollock hit a groundball down the third-base line. The baseball hit the bag and took a sudden left turn toward foul ground. In a nanosecond, Arenado reached out, caught the ball in his bare right hand and threw it to first base. The throw didn’t have much juice as it skipped toward first baseman Mark Reynolds, and Pollock was safe with an infield single. “Man, I just couldn’t get the right grip, so I had to kind of shot put it,” Arenado lamented. “I was ticked off, because I almost had him.” Almost isn’t good enough for the Rockies’ four-time Gold Glove third baseman, and that feeling has spread throughout the team, which is off to a 16-10 start in large part because of its defense. “We feel like we want to make every single play,” said shortstop Trevor Story. “We work hard at that in pregame. We practice it. We practice hard, even now, during the season, and I think it’s paying off. “We want our pitchers to know we will make plays. We want them to have confidence so they don’t try to pitch too fine.” Defense was not the Rockies’ forte last season. Their .982 fielding percentage ranked 28th in the majors, and their 110 errors tied with Pittsburgh for third most. Overall, the crispness and the big-moment plays that characterize winning teams were absent. For comparison, consider the 2007 World Series Rockies, who set a major-league record for team fielding percentage (.989) and committed only 68 errors, by far the fewest in franchise history. These Rockies certainly aren’t those Rockies, but they’re making strides. While the rebuilt bullpen has clearly been the star of the show, the defense has been solid. The Rockies rank 11th in baseball with a .987 fielding percentage. Toss out two uncharacteristically ugly games against Washington in high-scoring affairs last week at Coors Field and the Rockies would rank much higher. “Overall, our defense has been really good,” first-year manager Bud Black said, singling out outfielders Gerardo Parra, Charlie Blackmon and Carlos Gonzalez, along with Story, and, of course,  Arenado. “There were a couple of lapses against the Nationals, but those games got a little chaotic — for both sides,” Black said. “But for the most part, our defense has been solid.” Related ArticlesApril 30, 2017 Ian Desmond comes off disabled list, goes 1-for-5 in Rockies’ loss to Diamondbacks April 30, 2017 Rockies’ German Marquez takes big step forward with six scoreless innings vs. D-Backs April 30, 2017 Daniel Descalso’s walk-off home run sinks Rockies in 13th April 30, 2017 Rockies’ Ian Desmond comes off DL, starts in left; Cristhian Adames designated for assignment April 29, 2017 Rockies score 3 runs in the 9th to beat Diamondbacks Black likes his team to be aggressive, on offense and defense. That’s why he was thrilled with Parra’s diving catch on Chris Owings’ sinking line drive in the ninth inning of Colorado’s 7-6, comeback win over the Diamondbacks on Saturday night. “If you’re not hitting — I had a bad day today — I want to try to do something,” Parra said then. “This time, I wanted to catch everything in left field. That’s a great moment for the win.” Reynolds has been the unsung hero. When Ian Desmond got hurt during spring training, Reynolds became the starting first baseman by default, but he has been excellent, having committed just two errors in 259 total chances and earning the trust of his fellow infielders. “I have improved,” he said. “I know that I don’t want the guys in the infield to lose confidence in me. I want them to be able to make a spinning throw, or throw it in the dirt and know there’s a good chance I’m going to pick it up for them. I want those guys to have confidence in me.” [...]
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Daniel Descalso’s walk-off home run sinks Rockies in 13th
PHOENIX — Inning after inning, the zeroes mounted at Chase Field on Sunday. Something had to give — eventually. It did, in the blink of an eye. Arizona’s Daniel Descalso hit a two-run, walk-off homer in the 13th inning, leading the Diamondbacks to a 2-0 victory over the Rockies. It spoiled the chance for a Colorado three-game sweep, and it was a bitter end to a sweet April in which the Rockies finished 16-10 to lay claim to the top spot in the National League West, a half-game in front of the Diamondbacks. Descalso’s blast put an end to the longest 0-0 game in Chase Field history. The previous scoreless marathon was on Sept. 6, 2010, between the Diamondbacks and the San Francisco Giants. That game was scoreless until the Giants plated two runs in the top of the 11th. There were multiple chances for both teams to end Sunday’s marathon, but it came down to one good swing by Descalso. He teed off on a bad 0-2 pitch by reliever Jordan Lyles, who gave up an infield single to Brandon Drury to open the 13th. “It was a slider. It was down the middle,” said Lyles, whose ERA sits at 10.03. “I tried to bounce it, and I missed middle-middle with it. Our bullpen did a really good job today, but I threw a really bad pitch to Descalso on 0-2, and that can’t happen. “I’ve just got to locate my slider better next time. But it’s tough way for a game to end, for it to come down to one bad pitch by me.” For Descalso, who played for the Rockies from 2015-16, the first walk-off homer of his eight-year career was reason to rejoice. For good measure, it splashed down in the swimming pool beyond the right-center-field wall. “I’m just glad I gave us a chance to get the win,” Descalso said. “I’m not trying to hit a home run there on an 0-2 count, but he made a pitch out over the plate. I put a good swing on it, and it ended up being the game-winner.” Although Rockies manager Bud Black and his players praised the pitching on both sides, the Rockies couldn’t help but feel like this was a game that got away. One key hit could have won it, but it never came. Colorado struck out 17 times — vs. the D-Backs’ 13 whiffs — and left nine men on base, going 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. The top four batters in the Rockies’ order went 1-for-22 and combined for seven strikeouts. “They pitched really well, and at the end it got a little harder to hit with the shadows, but I don’t think that’s an excuse,” said right fielder Carlos Gonzalez, who managed a single in the 11th inning. “We just didn’t hit. It was a grind and a battle the whole time. I just knew that one swing was going to win the game.” Rockies starter German Marquez, rebounding from his difficult 2017 debut when he gave up eight runs in four innings vs. Washington in a chilly, wet game at Coors Field, was outstanding. Commanding his fastball and mixing in a changeup and an effective curve, he blanked the Diamondbacks for six innings. He struck out eight and walked one — an intentional walk to Nick Ahmed in the fourth. “The difference for me today was that I commanded my fastball much better,” Marquez said. “I located it, and also the weather was a lot better.” Diamondbacks left-hander Patrick Corbin mastered the Rockies for 6 1/3 innings, allowing no runs on two hits. He walked two and struck out six. Colorado’s best opportunity to get to Corbin came in the fifth. That chance produced baserunners, but no runs on the scoreboard. The Rockies loaded the bases with no outs on a walk by Mark Reynolds, a single by Ian Desmond to left (his first hit as a Rockie) and a walk by Trevor Story.  Corbin didn’t flinch. He got Dustin Garneau to pop out to second, coaxed Marquez to top the ball to third baseman Jake Lamb, who forced Reynolds out at home, and then induced a groundout to third by Charlie Blackmon. BOXSCORE: Diamondbacks 2, Rockies 0 Scoring drought Sunday’s 13-inning game was a rarity for the Rockies and the Diamondbacks: The D-Backs’ 2-0 victory was the longest game to remain scoreless at Chase Field. The previous longest scoreless game was on Sept. 6, 2010, vs. San Francisco. That game was scoreless until the Giants scored two runs in the top of the 11th inning. It marked just the 10th game in Rockies history they were scoreless after nine innings, and all but one of those games occurred on the road. The teams combined for 30 strikeouts, left 22 men on base and were 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position.     [...]
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Ian Desmond likely to make Rockies debut Sunday, in left field, not at first base
PHOENIX — “Starting in left field for the Colorado Rockies, No. 20 … Ian Desmond.” That wasn’t the scenario the Rockies envisioned when they signed Desmond to a five-year, $70 million contract to be their starting first baseman. However, that’s the announcement likely to come over the public address system Sunday afternoon at Chase Field when Desmond makes his expected Rockies debut vs. Arizona. Manager Bud Black didn’t officially announce that Desmond will come off the disabled list but after watching Desmond play well in his second extended spring game Saturday, Black came very close to making the announcement. “He looked great … his timing was great,” Black said. Desmond, returning from a broken left hand he suffered in spring training, had seven at-bats and four doubles on Saturday. He started the game at first base, then moved to left field for two innings. Black will talk with general manager Jeff Bridich to make a final decision on when to promote Desmond. A two-time all-star, once as a shortstop, where he started for six full seasons with Washington, Desmond was converted to an outfielder in Texas last season. He’s never played first base, though he worked there extensively during spring training. This winter, the Rockies insisted they signed him to play first, at least this season. But that was before he broke his hand. Starting Desmond in left field Sunday makes sense because the Rockies are facing left-hander Patrick Corbin and they would like to have another right-handed bat in the lineup. That means keeping hot-hitting Mark Reynolds at first base and starting Desmond in left, likely supplanting Gerardo Parra, at least for one game. Related ArticlesApril 29, 2017 Saunders: With Bud Black’s April honeymoon over, can he keep Rockies relevant for long run? April 28, 2017 Kyle Freeland plays stopper, paves way for Rockies’ win over D-backs April 28, 2017 Chad Bettis, battling cancer, visits and inspires Rockies teammates in Arizona reunion April 28, 2017 Rockies have the youngest rotation in the majors. It was years in the making — and not random. April 27, 2017 Bud Black taking issue with Rockies walks. And Colorado’s bullpen is buckling. “I feel comfortable, but it’s really more about how (the Rockies) feel,” Desmond said. “I played left field for 40 games last year, but that was the first 40 games of the season, so that was a long time ago. I will try to put in as much work as I can.” It’s looking more and more like the Rockies will use Desmond as a high-profile utility player, much like the Chicago Cubs utilize Ben Zobrist, who plays second base and outfield. Footnotes. Outfielder David Dahl, out of action with injured ribs since Colorado’s second Cactus League game, took live batting practice Friday. He woke up a little sore on Saturday, but happy that pain in his rib did not flare up. “It’s just muscle soreness, because I haven’t swung a bat in so long,” Dahl said. “We’ll see where we go from here. I haven’t been told when my rehab assignment might start.”….According to the Elias Sports Bureau, left-hander Kyle Freeland (2.93 ERA) and right-hander Antonio Senzatela (2.81) are the only two pitchers in Rockies history to earn three or more victories while maintaining a sub-3.00 ERA over their first five career starts. [...]
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Bud Black taking issue with Rockies walks. And Colorado’s bullpen is buckling.
If there’s a language barrier between Bud Black and Rockies rookie pitcher Antonio Senzatela, it does not extend to the word “walk.” Senzatela grew up speaking Spanish in Venezuela. But he will never need that word translated. So Black, about an hour before Thursday’s game against the visiting Nationals, started a pointed conversation with the right-hander. The topic: Do not walk batters. “It’s a no-no,” Black said. The issue of free passes is not a Senzatela problem, at least alone. It’s a Rockies problem. On Tuesday, 22-year-old rookie right-hander German Marquez walked Washington’s pitcher, Joe Ross, on eight pitches. With two outs. The next seven batters in the seventh helped the Nats score five runs. On Wednesday, Tyler Chatwood walked two batters in the second inning, including pitcher Tanner Roark. Both with two outs. “It’s embarrassing,” Chatwood said. “I had two guys 0-2 and walked them. That should never happen. And it happened twice in one inning.” The Rockies have issued 75 walks, ranking fifth-worst in the National League. On Thursday, Senzatela walked three and struck out one in six innings. Then the walks crept back. Carlos Estevez walked Washington’s pitcher, Gio Gonzalez, with four pitches in the seventh. With the bases loaded. With two outs. Jordan Lyles walked the next batter, Adam Eaton, again with the bases loaded. “It all was not good,” Black said. Bullpen hurting. Senzatela threw 99 pitches in six innings. Colorado’s bullpen threw 97 pitches in three. And suddenly, the relief corps that carried the Rockies into first place in the National League West is cracking. “Regardless of where you play, you have to pitch well. We went through some guys this series,” Black said. Colorado’s bullpen ERA ballooned to 4.77, now ranked 21st in baseball. Many of runs allowed in the high-scoring series against the Nationals came late in blowouts. And while Black deftly avoided burning his brightest stars — closer Greg Holland and Adam Ottavino pitched just one inning apiece, on Monday — the middle relievers were grinding. “The innings, for me, don’t matter,” Black said. “It’s the number of pitches certain guys threw that might tax them. There were high pitch counts and that’s a little bit of concern. We’ll keep an eye on their arms.” Related ArticlesApril 28, 2017 Rockies have the youngest rotation in the majors. It was years in the making — and not random. April 27, 2017 Red-hot Nationals go wild at Coors Field in another blowout victory as Rockies walk away in a skid April 27, 2017 Ian Desmond ready for game action as Rockies set his rehab schedule April 26, 2017 Kiszla: Rockies’ hot start no fluke. Carlos Gonzalez declares: “We are more talent than noise.” April 26, 2017 Bryce Harper, Nationals blast Rockies as Tyler Chatwood’s home woes continue Desmond ready for action. First baseman Ian Desmond flew with the Rockies to Arizona on Thursday night and while the team prepares for a three-game series against the Diamondbacks on Friday, Desmond will split off to play in extended spring training games at the club’s Scottsdale headquarters. Desmond, recovering from surgery to repair a broken hand suffered in mid-March, will begin training for multiple positions. “He’s ready for everything,” Black said. “He’s gonna get volume. Which is what he wants. He told me, ‘I want grounders, I want fly balls, I want swings in the cage, I want at-bats in extended games.'” Footnotes. Catcher Tom Murphy will get a bone scan Friday in Arizona to determine how well his right broken wrist is healing… Center fielder Charlie Blackmon doubled twice Thursday and went 3-for-5 to extend a 12-game hitting streak. He has multiple hits in four of his past six games… Nolan Arenado homered in the first inning, his seventh, tying for the team lead shared by Blackmon and Mark Reynolds. Arenado is hitting .643 (9-for-14) in first innings… Rookie Pat Valaika started in left field, his first career outfield start. Right fielder Carlos Gonzalez got a planned day off and Gerardo Parra started in right… The Rockies allowed 11 or more runs in three consecutive games for just the fourth time in club history. The Nationals’ streak was their first since 1986, when they were the Montreal Expos. Looking ahead … Matthew Stockman, Getty ImagesStarting pitcher Kyle Freeland of the Colorado Rockies throws against the San Francisco Giants at Coors Field on April 23, 2017 in Denver. Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland (2-1, 3.32 ERA) at Diamondbacks LHP Robbie Ray (2-0, 3.42), Friday 7:40 p.m., ROOT, 850 AM Freeland is coming off his best [...]
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