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.

MLB.com Columnist

Barry M. Bloom

Black bringing superior baseball knowledge to Rockies

Black bringing superior baseball knowledge to Rockies

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- After a season working in the Angels' front office, it's great to have Bud Black back in the day-to-day mix.

Black is one of those rare erudite baseball people who knows the game inside out and can explain his managerial machinations with grace and intelligence. A left-handed pitcher, pitching coach and now the new manager of the Rockies, Black first received a degree in management from the Fowler College of Business Administration at San Diego State in 1979.

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Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Home woes not a main concern for Chatwood

Righty more focused on having a healthy, productive season

Home woes not a main concern for Chatwood

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Rockies have spent much of their existence trying to demystify pitching at altitude. Right-handed pitcher Tyler Chatwood has his own way.

He doesn't get all mystical about it in the first place.

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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.

Gray carries confidence into Spring Training

Righty recorded 185 strikeouts during his rookie year in 2016

Gray carries confidence into Spring Training

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-handed pitcher Jon Gray has found more than a new manager. He's found that Bud Black is a kindred spirit.

Although the Rockies finished 75-87 last season, a rotation that consisted of two rookies in Gray and lefty Tyler Anderson, plus two other young righties in Chad Bettis and Tyler Chatwood, raised hopes for 2017.

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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

Cactus League's success a story of perseverance

Rockies' decision to train in Tucson in 1993 helped make Arizona hot again for MLB teams

Cactus League's success a story of perseverance

The Valley of the Sun has become a Spring Training nirvana. Fifteen Major League franchises have made the Phoenix area their Spring Training home, with five two-team facilities and five single-team ballparks scattered throughout the area.

It is less than a 50-minute drive from Salt River Fields, where the D-backs and Rockies train, to Goodyear Ballpark, home of the Reds and Indians. And that's the longest drive in the Cactus League.

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

Desmond driven to learn first base with Rox

Longtime shortstop transitioned to center field last year

Desmond driven to learn first base with Rox

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A subject of conversation and consternation around Rockies camp is Ian Desmond signing a five-year, $70 million contact to play first base -- something he has never done at any level.

In some eyes, it's a waste of the athletic ability that allowed Desmond to play shortstop with the Nationals and center field with the Rangers. For others, it's a risk: An infield with two decorated fielders -- third baseman Nolan Arenado and second baseman DJ LeMahieu -- and second-year shortstop Trevor Story will be making throws to a newbie.

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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.

Ottavino past injuries, confident for strong '17

Right-hander had a 2.67 ERA last year after returning from Tommy John

Ottavino past injuries, confident for strong '17

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- As the 2016 season ended, Rockies right-handed reliever Adam Ottavino no longer felt the reminders that he'd had Tommy John surgery a month into the 2015 season.

"I'm just not really thinking about it anymore," Ottavino said. "Sometimes, it's hard to believe I even had the surgery at all."

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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.

Castro hopes offseason work pays off in spring

Right-hander was shut down last August due to shoulder soreness

Castro hopes offseason work pays off in spring

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Last April 17, right-hander Miguel Castro left the Rockies intrigued when he entered the eighth inning with a one-run lead against the eventual World Series champion Cubs at Wrigley Field, setting them down on 10 pitches and no problems.

Maybe the follow-up act will come this spring.

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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 expect healthy McGee to bounce back

Power left-handed reliever to pitch for Team USA in World Baseball Classic

Rockies expect healthy McGee to bounce back

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It was an overcast February morning in the desert, a long way from showtime for Rockies lefty reliever Jake McGee.

But if someone were to tap McGee on the shoulder -- two days before the first workout for pitchers and catchers -- and tell him to loosen up, then face a tough hitter in a game-deciding situation, how hard could he throw his signature fastball?

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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.

Black recalls pitching in Rockies' spring debut

Colorado's manager played for San Francisco in 1993

Black recalls pitching in Rockies' spring debut

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- One man's get-me-started, first Spring Training outing was a big day in baseball history for an entire region.

On March 6, 1993, then-Giants pitcher Bud Black showed up for a start at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson, Ariz. To Black, it brought back memories. But everything was new for the Colorado Rockies. It was the first Spring Training game for the franchise.

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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.

New faces shake up Rockies' jersey numbers

New faces shake up Rockies' jersey numbers

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Good news for Rockies fans who still have No. 2 jerseys and want to look up-to-date: You have someone to cheer for, although you need a little shorter nameplate.

For the first time since shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was traded to Toronto in 2015, Colorado will have a No. 2 -- Alexi Amarista, who signed as a utility player in January.

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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.

Rox face tough competition for pitching spots

Rest of club's 25-man roster easier to predict

Rox face tough competition for pitching spots

With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com takes a look at a different aspect of this year's Rockies squad each day this week. Today's topic: Predicting the 25-man roster.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It's time to predict the Rockies' 2017 roster, but keep in mind this is fun. The first muscle pull or "dead arm" issue or, heaven forbid, injury that costs part or even all of the regular season, renders this out of date. That's when this goes from a pre-Spring Training exercise to a challenge for new manager Bud Black.

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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' ideal season relies on young arms

Gray, Bettis, Chatwood, Anderson lead promising rotation

Rockies' ideal season relies on young arms

With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Rockies squad each day this week. Today's topic: The perfect season

DENVER -- Rockies fans are sustained through the winter -- and have been soothed through six straight losing seasons -- by the memory of the surprise 2007 World Series appearance. But in 2017, the Rockies are better served aspiring to recapture the spirit of '09.

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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, CarGo bring star power to Classic

McGee, five Rockies Minor Leaguers will also compete

Arenado, CarGo bring star power to Classic

DENVER -- The Rockies will lend star power to the World Baseball Classic with third baseman Nolan Arenado suiting up for Team USA and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez leading Venezuela, as official rosters were announced on Wednesday.

Rockies lefty reliever Jake McGee will also play for Team USA.

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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.