Notes: Torrealba's bat making noise

Notes: Torrealba's bat making noise

PHOENIX -- Many segments of the Rockies offense have been bad during a 1-9 stretch, but the club might have found offense behind the plate in Yorvit Torrealba.

After missing the first two months of the season with a strained shoulder and hitting a rusty .185 in June, Torrealba has batted .342 since July 1, and he has gone 7-for-21 (.333) with three doubles on the Rockies' current road trip by driving the ball to the power alleys, rather than trying to pull balls.

Torrealba's surge has been overshadowed by the team's struggles at the plate. But if his production continues, it will signal an improvement for a club that needs to fill offensive holes to stay relevant in the National League West.

"He's going to continue to have every opportunity to have the bulk of the playing time so we can assess him," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said.

Torrealba also claps and yells after big hits and stomps and slams his bat when he's disappointed. He adds emotional flair to a club that can seem bureaucratic, not because of a lack of passion, but because so many players are quiet by nature or have yet to grow into their Major League personalities.

"I've done this most of my life," Torrealba said. "But I basically let the pitchers know that no matter how ticked off I can be when I strike out or something, I'll never bring my anger to my defense. Never will. I've been known as a really good defensive catcher, and I've never hit .300, so I have to do my job."

Torrealba, 28, made his 12th start in 15 games on Friday night in the opener of a three-game set with the Diamondbacks.

He clearly is ahead of JD Closser, who is hitless with five strikeouts in his last 10 at-bats. Opening Day starter Danny Ardoin is nine games into a Minor League rehab assignment for a knee injury, but Torrealba has the offensive advantage. Torrealba has 23 RBIs in 92 at-bats, as opposed to 13 in 167 combined at-bats for Ardoin and Closser.

However, Torrealba still is competing. Rockies fans are clamoring for a promotion for prospect Chris Iannetta, who tore up the Texas League at Double-A Tulsa and hit .417 over his first 19 Triple-A games at Colorado Springs.

Torrealba calls Iannetta a "great talent," and he'd have no qualms about being a teammate with him -- same as with the other catchers.

But after having to sit and wait while Benito Santiago, A.J. Pierzynski and Mike Matheny got their chances with the Giants and being moved after the Mariners signed Kenji Johjima, Torrealba does not want to give up his chance easily.

"In the past, I had to wait for somebody to get hurt to play two or three days in a row, but here, I'm getting an opportunity to show everybody what I'm able to do," he said. "I want to stay here three, four, 10 years -- until the end of my career."

On the bench: Left-handed-hitting center fielder Cory Sullivan was left out of the starting lineup on Friday for the 16th time in 36 games.

Part of it is the Rockies want to know once and for all what they have in right-handed-hitting Choo Freeman, but a big problem is Sullivan's 68 strikeouts in 271 at-bats with just 16 walks and a pedestrian 5-for-8 in stolen base attempts.

"In Little League, how many people were ever told, 'Just meet the ball?' " Hurdle said. "For a guy of his stature, the problems [Sullivan] has had provide you with a real big challenge. Strike zone awareness is one thing, and plate discipline is another thing."

The Rockies don't want to give up on Sullivan, whom Hurdle says is "as good as there is in the National League defensively."

On the Rox: Left-hander Jeff Francis appears on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week. Granted, it's a minor picture in the top right corner, as New Orleans Saints rookie Reggie Bush dominates the cover. Asked whether the Rockies are suffering from the infamous SI-cover jinx, Francis said, "I don't think I'm really on the cover." The story identified the Rockies as one of several below-.500 teams that have playoff aspirations. ... In search of veteran relief help, the Rockies signed lefty Mike Venafro and assigned him to Colorado Springs. Venafro spent the beginning of this season with the Reds' Triple-A affiliate in Indianapolis. He is 14-10 with five saves and a 4.11 ERA with four Major League teams, most recently the Dodgers in 2004.

Up next: Righty Josh Fogg (7-5, 4.23 ERA), who has never lost to the Diamondbacks (4-0, 2.84 in five starts), will face D-Backs righty Enrique Gonzalez (3-2, 4.99) at 7:40 p.m. MT on Saturday at Chase Field.

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