SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Some pitchers are going to be disappointed at the end of Spring Training when they begin the year at Triple-A Colorado Springs, rather than with the Rockies. But the Rockies have softened the blow somewhat by installing an atmosphere-controlled chamber for storing the baseballs, similar to what they have had at Coors Field since 2002.
"It's installed and currently operational," Rockies player development director Jeff Bridich said. "I'm sure all of the home pitchers and all of the road pitchers -- every pitcher in the park will be thankful."
The chamber at Coors, the so-called "humidor," helped normalize pitching. In the past, the high-desert atmosphere caused baseballs to become smaller, more slippery and harder -- conditions that favor hitting. It's even more pronounced at Security Service Field, which is about 1,000 feet higher in elevation than Coors Field.
Last year, for example, Greg Reynolds had a 6.81 ERA, and Clayton Mortensen was at 9.42 in Colorado Springs. Both were called to the Majors on multiple occasions and at least felt they had a fighting chance because conditions were not so extreme.
The new baseball storage system does not do anything to combat the altitude of the stadium or the unusual and strong wind patterns that seem to always favor hitters, but it helps.
"It's trying to standardize or normalize baseball as much as we can and have it a game that's reflective of a baseball game, and not a football score or a high school basketball score," Bridich said. "It's so very difficult to evaluate our pitchers. Really, any scout that goes in there, whether it's our scout or a scout from a different club, it's so very difficult to know what you're seeing from a pitching perspective.
"You really have to tip your hat to the pitchers that have pitched well there."