Passionate Anderson to start Cactus opener

Passionate Anderson to start Cactus opener

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies left-hander Tyler Anderson realizes the two innings or 30 pitches he'll throw in Saturday's Cactus League opener against the D-backs aren't likely to be remembered in October -- or April, for that matter. But Anderson is a competitive fellow.

The game will start at 1:10 p.m. MST at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick with Gameday Audio available. 

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Tapia staying ready no matter where he lands

Tapia staying ready no matter where he lands

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies outfield prospect Raimel Tapia's job this spring is to prove he is ready, even if he's not needed.

Tapia, 23, who is the No. 90 prospect and one of five Rockies on the MLB.com Top 100 Prospects, batted a combined .328 with a .361 on-base percentage at Double-A Hartford and Triple-A Albuquerque last season. The performance earned him a 22-game look-see in the Majors during which he hit .263 with a .293 OBP in 41 plate appearances.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Diaz on mend from surgery, faces batters

Diaz on mend from surgery, faces batters

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Reliever Jairo Diaz, whose right elbow injury last March was one of many reasons the Rockies' bullpen struggled last season, took a small but significant step Friday by facing hitters at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

Diaz, 25, who possesses a fastball that averaged 97.3 mph while going 0-1 with a 2.55 ERA in 26 combined games with the Angels (2014) and Rockies (2015), said he should be ready for a Minor League rehab assignment by May. When ready, Diaz could add power to a bullpen that looks to improve from last season, when its 5.13 ERA was the highest in the Major Leagues.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arenado gets peek of Cuba

Rockies' third baseman vows to use status to serve in homeland

Arenado gets peek of Cuba

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado spent Thanksgiving losing himself -- as much as possible for a baseball star -- in his family's homeland of Cuba. He returned to the United States thankful.

Arenado's grandfather, Gerardo, was a political prisoner in Fidel Castro's Cuba. Arenado's father Fernando, his twin brother and 12-year-old cousin were allowed to come to the United States. Gerardo left Cuba and went to Spain, before later receiving a visa to come to America.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Reynolds confident in return to Rockies

Reynolds confident in return to Rockies

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- After compiling the highest batting average and on-base percentage of his career last season with the Rockies, Mark Reynolds waited for guaranteed Major League offers that didn't come. But he wasn't disappointed enough to leave the continent.

Reynolds, 33, turned down a $3 million offer to play in Korea and re-signed with the Rockies on a Minor League contract. He stands to make $1.5 million if he makes the Major League club, and an additional $2.5 million is available via performance bonuses.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Journeyman Cardullo eyes 1st Opening Day job

29-year-old rookie, who made MLB debut in '16, hoping to break camp with Rox

Journeyman Cardullo eyes 1st Opening Day job

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Cast aside by the Arizona Diamondbacks organization in 2012, Stephen Cardullo spent four years in the place where many baseball dreams have gone to die.

Independent baseball.

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Logan Newman is a senior majoring in journalism at Arizona State University. This story is part of a Cactus League partnership between MLB.com and ASU's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Story wants to pen tale on defense

Story wants to pen tale on defense

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Any discussion of Rockies shortstop Trevor Story begins with home runs and segues to the bat after he hit 27 home runs as a rookie in 2016. But Story would like his glove to be in the conversation.

"I'm really prideful of my defense, probably more than offense," Story said. "It's huge, especially at shortstop. You've got to have a good defender there. I don't really just want to be good. I want to be one of the great shortstops."

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rusin's versatility a plus for Rockies

Rusin's versatility a plus for Rockies

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Discussions of the potential Rockies' starting rotation often end with, 'By the way, there's Chris Rusin. Bullpen projections also shoehorn him in the same way.

The point, however, is not that the left-handed Rusin is not appreciated. It's that he's available for whatever the Rockies need.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bettis gets clean bill of health

Bettis gets clean bill of health

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis loves operating on the outskirts early in Spring Training. But his health report was in the spotlight for good reason Wednesday.

Bettis has periodic checkups since undergoing surgery for testicular cancer in late November. He had blood work done Tuesday, and Wednesday received good news.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rockies ready to compete with big spenders

Rockies ready to compete with big spenders

PHOENIX -- Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich hopes to follow the steps of the 2014 and '15 Royals and the '16 Indians as mid-market teams that reached the World Series.

Bridich, speaking Tuesday at Cactus League Media Day, didn't see the point in pronouncing the Rockies contenders after six straight sub-.500 seasons.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dahl, Parra battling for starting job in LF

22-year-old Dahl replaced injured Parra at position last season

Dahl, Parra battling for starting job in LF

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies outfielder David Dahl wants the triumphs of last year to give him confidence heading into this season. Gerardo Parra would like to forget 2016 as quickly as possible.

Each arrived at Spring Training 2017 trying to prove he is worthy of the Rockies' regular left-field job.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Amarista's versatility could be helpful to Rox

27-year-old has experience playing for new manager Black

Amarista's versatility could be helpful to Rox

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- By joining the Rockies, left-handed-hitting Alexi Amarista can continue doing a little bit of everything for manager Bud Black.

Amarista, 27, broke in with the Angels in 2011 but truly gained footing in 2012 after joining the Padres, then managed by Black, who was there through the first 65 games of 2015. With the Padres, Amarista played every position except first base and catcher, even ending up on the mound twice (although the first wasn't until June 17, 2015, the game after Black's departure).

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

LeMahieu ignores naysayers, keeps improving

LeMahieu ignores naysayers, keeps improving

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu added the 2016 National League batting title to his honors that include a Rockies Wilson Defensive Player of the Year award in 2013 and a Rawlings Gold Glove in 2014. Still, he's guaranteed to show up on any list of underrated players.

But he never cared about that before and doesn't intend to start now. The 2017 MLB Network listing of Top 10 Second Basemen Right Now rated him ninth.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arenado prepares for bout at the plate

Arenado prepares for bout at the plate

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado wants to come out ahead in more best vs. best matchups.

Arenado is recognized as one of the game's best players. He ranked 12th in MLB Network's recent ranking of baseball's Top 100 players. But he sees the next step as performing better against some of the best opposing pitchers, especially in the National League West.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Presidents Day a double holiday for Rockies

Monfort expresses enthusiasm for first day of full workouts

Presidents Day a double holiday for Rockies

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- With Presidents Day coinciding with Monday's first official full-squad workout of Rockies Spring Training (although many players have been at Salt River Fields for weeks), Rockies owner, chairman and CEO Dick Monfort stopped to reflect on the two holidays -- one on the calendar, one in the heart of baseball fans.

MLB.com asked Monfort to provide his main messages to Rockies fans going into the 2017 season:

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Blackmon understands why trade rumors fly

Center fielder tapped into power last year with 29 HRs

Blackmon understands why trade rumors fly

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Charlie Blackmon appreciated the phone call from Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich, even though he didn't think it was necessary.

From the end of last season, speculation had flown that the depth of the Rockies' outfield and their needs in other areas meant the club would entertain trading Blackmon, the everyday center fielder since 2014. Speculation grew when the club signed Ian Desmond, who played center last season for the Rangers -- never mind that the Rockies said all along Desmond was going to play first base.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rockies' Murphy sticks with mitt that fits

Rookie catcher goes with basic black on Glove Day

Rockies' Murphy sticks with mitt that fits

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies rookie catcher Tom Murphy says sometimes you hurt the one you (g)love.

Murphy sized up his new Wilson catcher's mitt on Sunday at Salt River Fields. A new glove is always exciting for a ballplayer, even at age 25. But Murphy -- and his dad -- were maybe too excited when he received his first new glove while at Moore High School in Central Square, N.Y.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rockies' catching corps young but prepared

Rockies' catching corps young but prepared

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies catching prospect Jan Vazquez's highest experience level is at Triple-A Albuquerque -- for one game last season. He's spent most of the last two years at Double-A. So he's smart enough to listen to a wise, old catcher on keeping smooth behind the plates.

"It's almost as if you're thinking about what you're going to have for dinner that night," Tony Wolters told him while setting a pretend target. "'I'm going to eat a steak.' Then the ball comes and you catch it, nice and easy."

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rockies pitching prospect Gonzalez on his way

Rockies pitching prospect Gonzalez on his way

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-handed prospect Rayan Gonzalez is headed in a Major League direction, now that he has a handle on his best pitch -- a 94-96 mph fastball with natural cutter movement.

Gonzalez, 26, a 21st-round Draft pick in 2012 out of Bethune-Cookman College, posted a solid 49 strikeouts in 52 innings at Double-A Hartford last season, but his 23 walks were a concern. But Gonzalez put himself on the Major League radar in the Arizona Fall League with 12 strikeouts and two walks in 11 2/3 innings.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Thumb healed, Story aims to limit headfirst slides

Rockies shortstop had dream rookie season end early due to injury

Thumb healed, Story aims to limit headfirst slides

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies second-year shortstop Trevor Story plans to slide feet first, since a headfirst slide was the beginning of a left thumb injury that halted his standout rookie season last July 30. But a plan is not a guarantee.

Story jammed the thumb into second base during a game against the Mets at Citi Field. In the bottom of that inning, he landed on the thumb while diving for a grounder. It required surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament. So, whether in the Cactus League or the regular season, at some point Story is going to be instinctive.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

Walker enjoying coaching Team Canada, retirement

Walker enjoying coaching Team Canada, retirement

Larry Walker grew up wanting to be a hockey player. He ended up playing baseball -- and playing it well. The British Columbia native was the National League MVP Award winner in 1997, as well as a five-time All-Star, a seven-time Gold Glove Award winner and a three-time Silver Slugger Award winner.

Now in retirement, Walker admits the game still has a hold on him. Only this time, his involvement is as a coach for Team Canada in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, a squad managed by former big league catcher Ernie Whitt.

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Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Write 'em Cowboy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Estevez hopes experience smooths 2nd year in bigs

Rockies reliever spent offseason working on pitching mechanics

Estevez hopes experience smooths 2nd year in bigs

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies righty reliever Carlos Estevez spent last year being educated, literally at 100 mph.

Estevez's triple-digits fastball was such an asset that, when injuries hit veteran relievers Jason Motte and Jake McGee, the Rockies had him closing games. But because he was barely a calendar year out of Class A, inexperience was often his toughest opponent.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

CarGo pleased with Rockies entering contract year

With trade rumors in past, outfielder focused on 2017

CarGo pleased with Rockies entering contract year

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Thursday morning was a repeat of the last several years. Star right fielder Carlos Gonzalez showed up at Rockies camp, and it wasn't long before he was asked if the team is going to trade him. But this year is different.

If a long-rumored trade once again doesn't materialize, Gonzalez's contract will be up at season's end, and the choice will be his. And he just might decide to stick around.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Holland getting back to routine after Tommy John recovery

After missing '16, potential closer excited to be in Rockies camp

Holland getting back to routine after Tommy John recovery

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Throwing bullpen sessions is the easy part for Rockies relief pitcher -- and probable closer -- Greg Holland. Sure, he missed last year with Tommy John surgery, but he is back in his element.

But when it comes to his day-to-day routine, it's a little fuzzy.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Senzatela ready to move on from tough 2016

Prospect spent time on DL, lost mother to cancer last year

Senzatela ready to move on from tough 2016

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-handed pitching prospect Antonio Senzatela retired Angels stars Mike Trout and Albert Pujols twice each in a game last Spring Training, and was expected to reach greater highs in 2016.

Instead, Senzatela struggled through right shoulder inflammation that flared during his second start at Double-A Hartford, and quietly endured unspeakable pain as his mother died of cancer in Venezuela. But this year, he arrived to camp in good spirits and pain-free, and will have a chance to battle for a spot in the season-opening rotation.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Motte, Qualls healthy, ready for bullpen battle

Motte, Qualls healthy, ready for bullpen battle

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- One source of Rockies optimism is the offseason bullpen beef-up. But caution: Right-handers Jason Motte and Chad Qualls know free-agent contracts don't always pay off.

Motte and Qualls want to show that their signings to two-year deals can work the second time around.

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Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.