Senzatela calm while facing adversity in start

Senzatela calm while facing adversity in start

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander Antonio Senzatela displayed a solid fastball and plus stuff, even if his command stood sharpening, on Thursday during his latest bid for the starting rotation. But the true test can't be measured in miles per hour or any other metric.

During 5 1/3 innings in an 8-3 loss to the Indians, Senzatela, 22, saw his patience and resolve tested. Senzatela gave up six runs (four earned) on 10 hits that included an Erik Gonzalez leadoff homer in the sixth.

But arguably, three fly balls on a windy day -- plays experienced, frontline players might have made -- became extra-base hits.

"I threw the ball good," said Senzatela, who threw 55 strikes in 83 pitches. "I got a bad result, but it was OK."

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Left fielder Rafael Ynoa, who homered for the Rockies, couldn't track Richie Shaffer's leadoff fly that became a double in the third, and later in the inning, Martinez doubled beyond center fielder Raimel Tapia's reach. Left fielder Stephen Cardullo leaped at the wall but couldn't grab Erik Kratz's fourth-inning, two-out triple. Second baseman Daniel Castro's error allowed two runs in the fifth.

But all was not perfect from the mound. After having neither his changeup nor his slider in a rough start against the Angels in his previous outing, Senzatela had the action Thursday but not the consistency. Still, on a day that would try anyone's patience, Senzatela scored high marks for composure.

Pitching coach Steve Foster made a calming visit in the third. But in the fifth, when Senzatela gave up two hits and a walk and Castro had the error after two were out, there was no mound visit.

"The only reason to go out was to calm a guy down if we saw any frustration, but we didn't see that," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "He keeps his wits about him, does a nice job of staying focused."

With righty Jeff Hoffman being optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque on Thursday, Senzatela remains in a race for the final two rotation spots with lefties Kyle Freeland and Harrison Musgrave, and righty German Marquez. Senzatela is the organizations' ninth-best prospect according to MLBPipeline.com.

Worth noting
Pat Valaika, hoping the roster structure allows a utility infielder in addition to veteran Alexi Amarista, made three diving plays at third base.

"He's played well all spring throughout the diamond and he's swinging the bat well, too," Black said. "He's done very well. He's an emerging player."

• Closer Greg Holland, using a 91-93 mph fastball and a nasty slider, fanned all three Indians batters he faced in the seventh. Lefty Mike Dunn continued his hitless spring, as well.

• Rockies righty reliever Adam Ottavino surrendered an eighth-inning leadoff homer to the Indians' Adam Moore and gave up two runs on two hits and two walks, with one strikeout, in the eighth.

"The fastball was a little erratic for Adam -- couldn't land it in a good spot," said Black, who plans to use Ottavino again Friday against the Giants. Ottavino bailed himself out with his slider.

• Righty reliever Scott Oberg pitched in a Minor League game against the Athletics and gave up one run on two hits, with four strikeouts over 1 1/3 innings Thursday.

• Rockies non-roster outfielder Chris Denorfia, 36, returned to the clubhouse after missing time with the flu. His experience and ability to play three positions are attributes, although several younger players are having big camps.

"It was a shorter bug than there have been in years past, so I don't think I lost that much weight," Denorfia said. "Being out makes it a little bit more difficult, but I'm just trying to show that I can still play, and I can contribute."

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.