Holmes preaching unity, hard work to Rockies' bullpen

Holmes preaching unity, hard work to Rockies' bullpen

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Last season's stat sheet offers the Rockies' bullpen an easy scapegoat. Starters threw just 905 1/3 innings, the lowest total in the Majors. That left relievers having to eat 525 2/3 innings, the third-highest amount in MLB. But these are the type of numbers that Rockies right-handed bullpen sage LaTroy Hawkins throws right out of the window.

"There is truth to that, but we've got to have the mindset of no excuses," Hawkins said. "Our team wasn't as bad as our bullpen. It's tough when the offense is putting in five or six runs a night and we have the lead in the seventh, eighth and ninth, and we -- I say we -- give it up. We have to do a better job as a unit. I don't care how many innings we have to log."

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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: Tulo, CarGo ahead of schedule

Weiss: Tulo, CarGo ahead of schedule

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The comebacks of shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez from season-ending surgeries in 2014 have accelerated to the point that both could be in Cactus League games sooner than expected.

Both players ran the bases Monday morning before rain began falling and the Rockies were forced inside for workouts.

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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.

LeMahieu made speed a focus during offseason

Gold Glove winner hopes to be more of a menace on base in 2015

LeMahieu made speed a focus during offseason

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu's offseason work on his speed already is showing dividends.

"We were doing sprints early in the offseason and by February I was much, much faster," LeMahieu said. "We'll see how that translates, but I accomplished my goal."

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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 not too concerned over setting Rockies lineup

Manager knows he has plenty of strong options from top to bottom

Weiss not too concerned over setting Rockies lineup

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies manager Walt Weiss doesn't see the big deal in setting a lineup. But that may have to do with his options.

For all their faults last season, the Rockies led the National League in runs and batting average despite missing Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, Michael Cuddyer and Nolan Arenado for large chunks of time. With the stars healthy (only Cuddyer, who signed with the Mets, is gone), and Corey Dickerson, Drew Stubbs and Charlie Blackmon coming off strong years, Weiss believes he doesn't have to lock into one lineup.

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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 feels good after facing Rockies hitters

Chacin feels good after facing Rockies hitters

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander Jhoulys Chacin's health was intact, even if his sharpness came late, on Saturday while facing hitters for 38 pitches.

Chacin said on Sunday that he wasn't feeling pain and could continue his preparation with an eye toward being on the Opening Day roster.

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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 sets pitching plan for Cactus openers

Weiss sets pitching plan for Cactus openers

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies manager Walt Weiss announced that right-hander Jordan Lyles will start against the D-backs in Wednesday's Cactus League opener at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

Other schedule starters this week are righty Jhoulys Chacin on Thursday against the D-backs, righty Kyle Kendrick on Friday vs. the Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium, and lefty Jorge De La Rosa on Saturday at home against the Cubs.

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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 add ground-ball pitching to combat Coors Field

Additions of Hale, Kendrick boost pitching staff

Rockies add ground-ball pitching to combat Coors Field

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- New Rockies pitcher David Hale was initially nervous after learning he was traded to Colorado this offseason.

His reservations were understandable. Hale was leaving behind the pitcher-friendly confines of Turner Field in Atlanta to pitch in a hitter's paradise at Coors Field.

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Ari Kaye is a graduate student in the journalism masters program 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.

D-backs, Rockies unveil newly renovated Lehi Field

D-backs, Rockies unveil newly renovated Lehi Field

MESA, Ariz. -- When Deanna Scabby was a young infielder, the lights at Lehi Ballfield were so dim that families would park their cars around the outside of the field and shine headlights at home plate so games could continue after dark.

On Sunday, Scabby stood before members of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies and her fellow Lehi District Council Representatives as a field dedication took place for the newly renovated diamond located on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

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Josh Rawitch is the senior vice president of communications for the D-backs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Axford seeks career comeback in Colorado

Rockies add veteran closer in effort to improve struggling 'pen

Axford seeks career comeback in Colorado

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The stats of the Rockies' bullpen last year didn't match the talents of the team's pitchers. In right-hander John Axford, they added a veteran who knows there is happiness on the other side.

Axford, who turns 32 on April 1, led the National League in saves with 46 for a 2011 Brewers team that went to the League Championship Series. But in 2012 he was part of a 'pen that led the league in blown saves.

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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.

Bergman finds extra motivation as Rox add rotation depth

Weiss impressed by veteran's return from broken hand last season

Bergman finds extra motivation as Rox add rotation depth

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander Christian Bergman chose to improve his pitches this winter, not sharpen a chip on his shoulder.

Bergman overcame the obscurity of being a 24th-round pick out of University of California, Irvine in 2010 by excelling at every level and breaking into the Majors last season. Bergman went 3-5 with a 5.93 ERA in 10 starts in a debut season interrupted for two months by a broken left hand.

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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 'very encouraged' by Tulowitzki, Gonzalez in camp

Weiss says pair won't be rushed to see game action in return from injuries

Rockies 'very encouraged' by Tulowitzki, Gonzalez in camp

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It's just two days, but any two with Rockies stars Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez on the field without pain are good ones.

Manager Walt Weiss said Tulowitzki, who had a torn hip labrum repaired last August, and Gonzalez, who had left knee surgery in the same month, will begin running the bases next week -- earlier than later, if all goes well.

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Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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.