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Rockies ready for home opener

Rockies ready for home opener

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ST. LOUIS -- Relief pitcher Brian Fuentes has been with the Rockies since 2002, and he has seen times "more thin than thick." But when crowds at Coors Field were thin, and when they were thick during last year's run to the National League title, he remembers the women high in the right-field corner.

"There are some ladies that stand on the third deck, right above the bullpen, that usually are standing up, waving at us," Fuentes said with a smile. "They're there every game. We find them immediately. Even when the place was packed, we could see them and give them a little wave. I'm sure they'll be there."

Rockies players say they can't wait to say hello again to their fans -- the ones that kept coming through six straight losing seasons and those that boarded the bandwagon to the World Series -- when they return for Friday's home opener against the Diamondbacks at 2:05 p.m. MT.

The Rockies' returning players say the ringing of their fans hasn't left their ears, nor do they want it to. The Rockies were swept by the Red Sox in the World Series.

"We cannot wait, just to see how they're going to respond," reliever Matt Herges said. "The way they were was amazing.

"Everybody talks about how crazy Boston is during the postseason. It didn't compare to Coors Field. When you talk about noise level and the excitement, it didn't even compare to Coors Field. The Rockies fans absolutely blew them away."

Right-handed pitcher Aaron Cook is looking forward to this home opener, not only because it's special, but because he can sit back and enjoy it while left-hander Mark Redman prepares to pitch. Cook started last year's season opener at Coors, and received a no-decision in an 8-6 loss to the Diamondbacks.

Even during his trips to Denver during the offseason, he noticed more people wearing the Rockies' colors on their hats and T-shirts and feeling Rockies fever. He expects Friday to be another outbreak.

"It's definitely very neat to see the way that things have grown over the last few years, especially where the organization has come from," Cook said. "We take a lot of pride in that. The city has shown its support."

The Rockies will raise their championship banner before Saturday night's game and receive their NL championship rings before Sunday afternoon's finale of the three-game set. Players say the ring design has been kept from them, with only general manager Dan O'Dowd, club president Keli McGregor and ownership having seen them. Manager Clint Hurdle said he wasn't involved in the design process.

"I have a feeling it's going to be electric ... I'm looking forward to the fans and the team to reunite, like they always do on Opening Day, but this one has a lot more significance and value to it," Hurdle said.

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

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