07/01/2003 8:54 PM ET
Notes: Hurdle holds back
DENVER -- Clint Hurdle said his uncharacteristically tentative managing cost the Colorado Rockies in their 8-7, 12-inning loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night.
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
"I told them [the team] quite honestly, this is the first game I've managed, I think, looking back in retrospect, that in a managerial position I've managed not to lose," Hurdle said. "I got a feeling from the ballclub, and normally when I get a feeling from the ballclub, I'll hit another button to try to take them in the direction I think they need to go.
"I didn't hit that button, and that falls on my shoulders."
Hurdle declined to discuss his button pushing, but on several occasions he held back on moves. For instance:
In the bottom of the ninth with one out and Larry Walker at third base, Hurdle went to right-handed hitting Greg Vaughn to face Arizona lefty Eddie Oropesa. The Diamondbacks countered with the right-handed Matt Mantei. Hurdle had lefty-swinging Mark Sweeney on the bench but didn't use him.
After starting catcher Charles Johnson walked in the 11th, Hurdle replaced him with the faster Ben Petrick, a onetime Rockies catching prospect who was moved to the outfield in part because of his defensive struggles. Yet, in the 12th, Hurdle left Petrick behind the plate instead of going to Bobby Estalella, a stronger defender.
As soon as David Dellucci reached first base, he took off for second and beat a throw from Petrick that sailed into center field. With Dellucci at second, struggling closer Jose Jimenez did not have a chance to reach for his security blanket, the groundball double play.
Later in the 12th, after Dellucci scored on Matt Kata's double for a 5-4 Arizona lead, the D-Backs had two men on for left-handed hitting Luis Gonzalez, who had homered earlier. Hurdle had left-handed pitcher Javier Lopez warm up in the bullpen but stuck with Jimenez, who at that moment had been spanked for a .459 average against left-handed hitters.
Hurdle, who had yanked Jimenez from a save situation two weeks ago and isn't afraid to make such a move, didn't go to Lopez. Gonzalez homered for an 8-4 lead.
Colorado's Chris Stynes knocked a three-run homer with two out in the bottom of the 12th, but it was one run too little. Petrick struck out to end the game.
All that was out of character for Hurdle, who has managed aggressively while asking his team to play that way.
The Rockies won on May 13 with a Ronnie Belliard squeeze bunt in the bottom of the ninth, used five relief pitchers as Hurdle played extreme matchup in a 4-0 victory over Montreal on May 18, and got a save from Justin Speier when Hurdle yanked Jimenez I the ninth inning of a 5-3 victory over San Diego on June 18.
Refresher course: Rockies rookie right-hander Aaron Cook went 2-6 with a 5.63 ERA, and 37 walks to 27 strikeouts, before being sent to Colorado Springs on June 17. But Cook has struck out 12 and walked four, going 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA in two Triple-A starts.
That was good enough to earn him a start on Friday night at Milwaukee. He'll replace 11-game winner Shawn Chacon, who was placed on the disabled list on Tuesday with an elbow problem.
"Reports on him are good," Hurdle said. "Mechanically, he tried to straighten some things out. He's been able to throw on the side, he's been able to throw in a few games, and they have seen what we have continued to hope to see -- command of the strike zone, down in the strike zone."
Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd said Cook responded quickly to the suggestions of Colorado Springs pitching coach Bob McClure, who worked with Cook at various stages of his minor league development. Cook will most likely return to the majors without a split-fingered pitch that he tried for the early part of the season.
"I think it was more mechanical things he did with Bobby in a more relaxed environment -- every pitch wasn't meaning the world for him," O'Dowd said.
Luis Lopez leaves: The Rockies traded infielder Luis Lopez, who spent the entire season at Triple-A Colorado Springs, to the Baltimore Orioles' Triple-A affiliate Ottawa for a player to be named.
Lopez, a non-roster invitee to Rockies Spring Training, batted .207 with three homers and 18 RBIs at Colorado Springs. Lopez has played in the Majors with San Diego, the New York Mets, Milwaukee and Baltimore.
If it counts ... : Asked to comment on the fact the result of the All-Star Game determines home-field advantage in the World Series, Hurdle offered another suggestion.
"I believe that anything to heighten the credibility, and the accountability of the All-Star Game is a positive ... I just think there is a couple of other issues that could be tightened up, and nobody has asked me my opinion," he said. "I've already gone on the record, and said I think if you're going to play a game and put the importance on it like that, you should have a center fielder voted on, rather than three outfielders.
"With the All-Star Game looking the way it is now, you've got Bonds, Sheffield, and Sosa. You don't' have a center fielder. You're playing a game with pretty high importance, and it seems to me from a managerial standpoint you want a guy playing center field."
The Rockies' Preston Wilson has been one of the most productive players at the position in baseball this season, but has received few votes. Equally productive are Jim Edmonds of St. Louis and Andruw Jones of Atlanta, who has the most votes of any center fielder. Neither is anywhere near the starting lineup.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.