Rockies' Foster takes personal approach

New pitching coach made offseason visits to players to get to know Colorado's staff

Rockies' Foster takes personal approach

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies lefty relief pitcher Rex Brothers had quite a bit to fix this offseason, after an ineffective 2014. So he was happy that new pitching coach Steve Foster wanted to start the process this winter by visiting him for dinner at his Tennessee home.

The day after dining with Foster and Rockies peak performance coordinator Andy McKay, Brothers and his younger sibling, Colorado righty prospect Hunter Brothers, pitched in front of the new coach. Would there be a magic tip to make his 5.59 ERA form of 2014 go away and his 1.74 ERA dominance in 2013 return?

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Lyles believes time off last year can help in '15

Rockies right-hander learned new pitch while injured, refined it in offseason

Lyles believes time off last year can help in '15

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander Jordan Lyles hopes his unlucky break last year propels him forward this year.

Lyles was 5-1 with a 3.52 ERA in 12 starts last year when he suffered a broken left hand while covering the plate after a wild pitch. During the time off, Lyles abandoned his old circle changeup -- a pitch he used maybe once a game -- for a split-finger change that could become more of a weapon this year.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rockies leaders to take questions from fans on Monday

Rockies leaders to take questions from fans on Monday

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Rockies began full-squad workouts on Friday, but how is the team really looking? Rockies fans have a chance to find out, with answers coming from the club's leadership on Monday at noon MT during a special Tweet 20.

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Prolific base-stealer Pierre retires after 14-year career

Outfielder, who played for six teams, is not ready to coach

Prolific base-stealer Pierre retires after 14-year career

JUPITER, Fla. -- Juan Pierre, the catalyst of the Marlins' 2003 World Series title team and one of the most prolific base-stealers of his generation, has announced his retirement. The 37-year-old speedster is walking away from the game after an impressive 14-year career.

Pierre, who lives in south Florida, is now a self-proclaimed "stay at home dad." He also isn't ready to accept a coaching position at this point.

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Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bettis sets sights on starting rotation with Rockies

After struggling out of the 'pen, right-hander hopes to find groove in camp

Bettis sets sights on starting rotation with Rockies

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis won a bullpen job last spring by striking out 11 and yielding just one run and four hits in 10 innings, but the success didn't carry to the regular season (0-2, 9.12 ERA in 21 games).

But late in the year, the Rockies converted Bettis to starter -- his job before the club plucked him from Double-A Tulsa in 2013, where he had fanned 68 in 63 innings over 12 starts. Last season Bettis was up and down between the Rockies and Triple-A Colorado Springs all year. At the end of the season he went 1-2 with a 4.88 ERA in five Triple-A starts. This spring, he is competing for a rotation spot or to be an option for an in-season callup.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Tulo to bring Children's Hospital patients to Spring Training

Tulo to bring Children's Hospital patients to Spring Training

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki will underwrite an all-expense paid trip to Spring Training for more than 20 patients of Children's Hospital Colorado's Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. The group will be in camp March 6-8, the hospital announced in a press release.

For many of the patients, it will be the first trip away from home without their parents, so the trip is not just a vacation, but a welcome chance for independence. Medical caregivers will be present when needed, but the children will be mostly in the company of peers and have the opportunity for friendship and support.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Prospect Gray shows off highly touted velocity

Right-hander has worked on stamina to endure professional rigors

Prospect Gray shows off highly touted velocity

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A sly smile adorned the face of Rockies right-handed pitching prospect Jon Gray on Thursday morning. Gray would be facing hitters for the first time in Spring Training, meaning it would be his first chance to show the velocity that led the club to pick him third overall in 2013.

Gray attended big league camp last spring, but the fastball, which at times reached triple-digit mph at Oklahoma, didn't come with him. During the regular season, Gray managed a solid Double-A season (10-5, 3.91 ERA) despite diminishing fastball speed -- low to mid 90s, rather than mid to upper 90s, with an occasional 100 -- because of shoulder fatigue.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dickerson striving for more plate discipline

Rockies outfielder must find way to maintain aggressiveness

Dickerson striving for more plate discipline

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies outfielder Corey Dickerson is confident he can hit pitches that aren't even strikes. But can he improve his discipline without losing his natural aggressiveness?

Dickerson hit .312 with a .364 on-base percentage, a team-high 24 home runs and 76 RBIs in 131 games last season. Part of his appeal is the ability to do damage to pitches outside the strike zone. For example, according to Pitch f/X data, on pitches between the belt and knees inside but not in the strike zone, Dickerson was 7-for-31 (.225). However, the hits included two home runs and three doubles. Another homer came on a pitch high and inside.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Rockies embracing Coors Field advantage

Rockies embracing Coors Field advantage

SCOTTSDALE -- The Rockies are embracing Coors Field.

"I've talked to our guys," said manager Walt Weiss. "We've got the best home-field advantage in baseball. I don't know if there is a close second. Teams feel vulnerable when they come to our place. We need to take advantage of that."

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Tracy Ringolsby is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Matzek ready to test new strategy in second season

Things came together for left-hander at end of 2014

Matzek ready to test new strategy in second season

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Last year, Rockies left-hander Tyler Matzek was experiencing clarity and success when the season ended.

"I would have loved to play year-round, although my body probably wouldn't have wanted to do that," said Matzek, who finished his rookie year 6-11 with a 4.05 ERA in 20 games (19 starts) after being called up in May, but went 4-2 with a 1.55 ERA in his final six starts. "I'd finally started feeling like I was hitting my stride, then the season ended.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Descalso brings postseason experience, intangibles

Rockies counting on infielder's winning attitude to help team contend

Descalso brings postseason experience, intangibles

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The surroundings were new for infielder Daniel Descalso, but being with the Rockies quickly felt like home.

Descalso, 28, spent the last five seasons with the Cardinals, and had postseason playing time the last four. The Rockies signed him to a two-year, $3.6 million contract to have someone who knew winning. Earlier this week, when shortstop Troy Tulowitzki called a meeting, it felt like St. Louis to Descalso.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Shortstop prospect Story learns valuable lesson from Tulo

Shortstop prospect Story learns valuable lesson from Tulo

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- This is the introductory Major League camp for the Rockies' Trevor Story, a 22-year-old shortstop who was a supplemental first-round pick in 2011 out of Irving (Texas) High School. But Story already has been introduced to big league ways.

Before last season -- when he sizzled at .332 in 50 games at Class A Modesto before hitting .200 in 56 games at Double-A Tulsa -- Story was invited by Rockies star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to Las Vegas for offseason training.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rockies' closer role to evolve with Hawkins at helm

Weiss preps for reinforcements to give 42-year-old help when needed

Rockies' closer role to evolve with Hawkins at helm

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Having the oldest player in baseball as the bullpen's closer makes the Rockies notable, but manager Walt Weiss believes it's smart to be ready to help 42-year-old LaTroy Hawkiins if fatigue is an issue.

Hawkins' right arm is resilient but he admits his body doesn't recover as well these days. Weiss said he will have others available when Hawkins needs a break.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

'Nothing is given': Kahnle aims to secure spot in 'pen with big spring

Young Rox pitcher working on slider, improving performance in tight situations

'Nothing is given': Kahnle aims to secure spot in 'pen with big spring

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Right-handed pitcher Tommy Kahnle trusts that the experience of making the Rockies' bullpen in 2014 as a Rule 5 pick will help this year, when camp is full of plenty of competitors hoping to wrest a job the way he did last year.

Last year, Kahnle had to make the team and stick all season, or else be waived and then offered back to the Yankees, his original organization. Considering the Yankees had left Kahnle unprotected in the first place, his future would've been uncertain. But Kahnle secured his spot with the Rockies by holding opponents to one run and striking out nine in 11 2/3 innings last spring, and then turned in a solid regular season, going 2-1 with a 4.19 ERA and 63 strikeouts (but 31 walks) in 68 2/3 innings.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Weiss, Rockies react to new pace-of-play rules

Some players express concerns about effort to speed up at-bats

Weiss, Rockies react to new pace-of-play rules

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies manager Walt Weiss won't know as much about the lives of umpires this year. Nonetheless, he welcomed rules implemented to quicken the process of instant-replay challenges.

Managers now must challenge calls from the dugout, rather than walk out until receiving word from the team's video coordinator whether to request a review.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Tulo intent on being healthy, staying on field

Tulo intent on being healthy, staying on field

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Done with his first day of batting practice, Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki leaned into a gentle stretch.

"So, who got Camper of the Day?" Tulowitzki said with a hopeful smile. "I'll take that today."

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kendrick, Rockies see good fits in each other

Kendrick, Rockies see good fits in each other

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Even before signing with the Rockies this past offseason, right-handed pitcher Kyle Kendrick saw a team that fit his style.

Having spent eight years pitching his home games in a small park with the Phillies, he knows the importance of relying on his defense. And you can't get much better than a Rockies infield with a combined five Rawlings Gold Glove Awards (two each for Troy Tulowitzki and Nolan Arenado, one for DJ LeMahieu) plus three in the outfield (all owned by Carlos Gonzalez).

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Power arms Diaz, Rondon have chance to impress Rox

Power arms Diaz, Rondon have chance to impress Rox

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Jairo Diaz was so shocked at being called up to the Angels from Double-A last September, "I cried." As for righty Jorge Rondon, he struck out 51 in 62 1/3 innings at Triple-A, but the Cardinals called him up for all of one game -- a crying shame. But both are all smiles in Rockies camp.

Looking to add power to the back of the bullpen, the Rockies traded infielder Josh Rutledge to the Angels for Diaz, and claimed Rondon off waivers. With Diaz, 23, having been clocked as high as 103 mph and capable of a consistent 98 mph in a given outing, and Rondon, 27, able to throw consistently 96 or above, they might be able to earn places in the Rockies' bullpen.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rockies could be looking at four-man bench

Rockies could be looking at four-man bench

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In his third year as Rockies manager, Walt Weiss is comfortable with a roster structure that regularly calls for 13 pitchers. That means a four-man bench.

So, barring injuries or an eye-popping spring performance (something Weiss doesn't mind rewarding), here's an early look at how it could shake out:

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Versatility key to getting Rosario's bat in Rockies' lineup

Versatility key to getting Rosario's bat in Rockies' lineup

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The beginning of Spring Training is already a workload for catchers, who have to be there for large numbers of pitchers. Duty will double for Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario when the rest of the roster begins working out Friday, since he will resume his crash course in playing first base.

But it's good to remember why: it's all to give him opportunities to hit.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rockies' Friedrich finds success in simplicity

Rockies' Friedrich finds success in simplicity

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Left-handed pitcher Christian Friedrich is a smart guy, quite analytical. But the Rockies and Friedrich found that turning off his brain was the key to success.

Friedrich went 0-3 with a 9.45 ERA in three starts last season before the Rockies sent him to Triple-A Colorado Springs to be retrained as a relief pitcher. From Aug. 27 until season's end, Friedrich was scored upon just once in 12 relief appearances and held opponents to a .098 batting average and .143 on balls put in play. Counting an early 1 2/3-inning appearance, Friedrich had a 1.64 relief ERA, with 10.64 strikeouts per nine innings.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Logan looking to make up for lost time with Rockies

Logan looking to make up for lost time with Rockies

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Left-handed reliever Boone Logan plans to introduce his true self to the Rockies in 2015.

Before last season, the Rockies signed Logan to the biggest contract they've ever given a reliever, three years, $16.5 million. But a cleanup surgery on Logan's left elbow at the end of 2013 (5-3, 3.23 ERA in 61 games with the Yankees) hadn't healed.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Chacin retools offseason routine in hopes of healthy 2015

Chacin retools offseason routine in hopes of healthy 2015

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Rockies didn't see nearly enough of right-handed pitcher Jhoulys Chacin last season -- just 11 starts (1-7, 5.40 ERA) because of rotator cuff and labrum damage. So they rarely let him out of their sight this winter.

Chacin scrapped plans to pitch winter ball in Venezuela and lived in Scottsdale so that he could properly rehab damaged muscles and tissue at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Multiple motion and resistance exercises with light weights were introduced to his routine. He admits it was painful, but now he understands.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hawkins taking final Spring Training in stride

Hawkins taking final Spring Training in stride

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Right-handed closer LaTroy Hawkins has experienced almost everything Spring Training has to offer. After all, Saturday's first workout of Rockies pitchers and catchers began his 24th professional spring and 21st Major League camp.

But knowing it's his last? That's a new one for Hawkins, 42, who has said he will retire at the end of the season.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Brothers leaner, eager to bounce back for Rockies

Brothers leaner, eager to bounce back for Rockies

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies lefty reliever Rex Brothers hasn't forgotten a forgettable 2014 season.

After 19 saves and a 1.74 ERA in 2013, when forced into the closer role because of Rafael Betancourt's right elbow injury, Brothers saw his ERA inflate to 5.59 last year.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Weiss: Big-picture perspective key in camp

Weiss: Big-picture perspective key in camp

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The mantra of the Rockies, with returning manager Walt Weiss and a revamped front office led by new general manager Jeff Bridich, is that improvement over four straight losing seasons starts with believing improvement is possible.

"A lot of it is just our mentality more than anything else, focusing on stuff from the neck up," Weiss said, discussing his message to the pitchers and catchers on Saturday morning, before their first official workout. "We've got a good group. They go about it pretty well. Just little reminders, that's all, not to try to make this great impression in your first bullpen session.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Healthy CarGo ready to swing a big bat again

Rockies outfielder arrives to camp early looking to erase disappointing 2014 season

Healthy CarGo ready to swing a big bat again

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The shatter of ball meeting speeding bat, and the resultant gasps and cheers from teammates, made Friday sound like old times. Rockies star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez had stepped into the batter's box on one of the practice diamonds at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick and crushed not one, but two home runs over the batter's eye in dead center.

Gonzalez and several early-arriving position players took batting practice, as they will until the first full-squad workout on Feb. 27. Gonzalez's blasts any time are welcome, but especially now. Gonzalez underwent season-ending left knee surgery last August. It was a year full of pain (an appendectomy in January and an operation to remove a benign tumor from his left index finger in June) and worry (identical twins spent lengthy time in the hospital before coming home healthy). But the knee turned Gonzalez -- a two-time All-Star with a National League batting title on his resume -- into a .238 hitter with 11 homers and 38 RBIs in just 70 games in 2014.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rockies voice concerns over new pace-of-game rules

Rockies voice concerns over new pace-of-game rules

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Pace-of-game initiatives announced Friday by Major League Baseball with the blessing of the MLB Players Association weren't directed at the Rockies, but they could not be blamed for being poked -- or shoved.

According to Fangraphs, using Pitch F/X data (with some credit going to the Rockies Zingers blog for publishing a recent article on the issue), the Rockies possess several players who take baseball's timelessness literally:

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Coors Field is De La Rosa's friendly confines

Rockies left-hander sports Majors' second-best home record since 2008

Coors Field is De La Rosa's friendly confines

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Since 2008, just one pitcher in the Majors has a home winning percentage better than Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa's .763. The Dodgers' Zack Greinke has a .782 home winning percentage, but that was achieved in three different homes -- none of them Coors Field, the park most people avoid when given a chance.

As the Rockies prepare for Saturday's opening of Spring Training for pitchers and catchers, De La Rosa shed light on his method for conquering hitter-friendly altitude and a park with expansive gaps that give hitters room to rack up hits despite soft contact. The key, De La Rosa said, is simply not thinking too big.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

McKenry joins pitchers, catchers at camp after journey

Ice storm delays backstop's arrival as Rockies officially open Spring Training

McKenry joins pitchers, catchers at camp after journey

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The words, "pitchers and catchers report," are magical, if meaningless. Teams such as the Rockies, with ultra-modern complexes like Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, have had most of the team in town for days already working. Footage of guys just now arriving with their bags is as antiquated as artificial turf.

But then there's Colorado catcher Michael McKenry, whose difficult trek was worthy of glad-hands and hugs.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.