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Rosario's backup: Pacheco or McKenry?

Rosario's backup: Pacheco or McKenry?

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- If the Rockies already have an answer to their backup catching situation, the smooth work Wednesday between lefty Jorge De La Rosa -- who will start Monday night's opener in Miami -- and Michael McKenry might have raised questions from the outside.

The Rockies will go with power-hitting Wilin Rosario as the regular and hope his defense begins to approach his offense. But De La Rosa's last start, a three-inning mess against the Indians, featured repeated shaking off of calls and rough communication with Rosario.

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The issue is Jordan Pacheco, who has played utility infield the last two years but has defensive skills, has played well and hit well, and he is out of Minor League options. McKenry, who is healthy after missing the last four months with a knee injury last year while with the Pirates, has a Minor League option.

McKenry is considered gifted when it comes to calling a game. He has struggled with steals the last couple of seasons, but he's working toward regaining the prowess in that area -- something he showed as a Rockies prospect a few years back.

Outside of the decision between McKenry and Pacheco, manager Walt Weiss must decide whether De La Rosa and Rosario are a good match.

Last year, when De La Rosa was coming off missing the better part of two seasons with elbow surgery, Weiss paired him with veteran Yorvit Torrealba early. But by year's end, De La Rosa had 15 games with Torrealba (3.07 ERA) and 14 with Rosario (3.82).

Weiss said he would probably not start anyone other than Rosario on Opening Day, but pairing De La Rosa with Pacheco or McKenry, depending on who is on the team, is a consideration.

"That's a good question," Weiss said. "They [De La Rosa and McKenry] worked well back there. It was a bit of a struggle last time out with De La and Wilin. But I think they got some of those things ironed out from the last time out."

As a player with the Braves, Weiss watched Greg Maddux often prefer to work with a backup catcher whose concern was defense rather than hitting, although he isn't certain he agrees with a personal catcher policy.

"It's not the worst thing in the world," Weiss said. "But it does tie your hands at times when you get in tough matchups. We did it last year with De La for maybe the first month, then we didn't pay much attention to it after that. It worked out just fine. Wilin caught a lot of De La's wins."

Rosario (.306, two homers, seven RBIs this spring) has missed the last two days after a bruised left calf. He is expected to play again Friday against the Mariners.

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

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