Morales gets chance in Rox's bullpen
Key starter in 2007 playoff run recalled to help out in relief
DENVER -- Rockies manager Jim Tracy is anxious to see the immense talent of left-hander Franklin Morales, even if it's in an unfamiliar bullpen role.
Morales, best known for making some key starts during the Rox's 2007 run to the playoffs, was called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs for Tuesday's game against the Nationals. He's spent much of the year in Triple-A, even though he made the starting rotation out of Spring Training.
Morales held the D-backs to one run and four hits in six innings of a 9-2 victory on April 8, but he was optioned to Colorado Springs immediately thereafter for roster purposes. In his return on April 21, he gave up two runs on three hits in two innings before leaving with a shoulder injury.
After a rehab assignment, he was optioned to Colorado Springs again because the rotation was packed. But Tracy told him he would not be forgotten if he continued to pitch well. In all, Morales was 2-2 with a 3.48 ERA for the Sky Sox.
Morales made the Rockies' rotation last year, but he went 1-2 with a 6.39 ERA in eight starts and was sent down after one month. He never returned because of control issues, as well as a back injury that he kept hidden until after the season. This time, Morales' pitching has been answering questions, not raising them.
"We asked him to go to Triple-A and do some things, work on some things, and he adhered to the program and did exactly what was asked of him to be done," Tracy said. "As I said to him back then, I said, 'How long you're there is up to you. It's a two-way street.
"You hold up your end of the bargain, we'll promise you we'll remember what we said, and if it gets to the point where we need to move on something because it makes sense for our ballclub, we'll do something.'"
Morales has no relief appearances in the Majors and just seven in 125 games in the Minors. But he'll replace lefty specialist Randy Flores, who was designated for assignment before Tuesday's game.
Because he has had a starter's workload, Tracy doesn't worry about Morales' ability to pitch multiple innings. Tracy also likes playing the matchups, so Morales could be seen at any time.
"I've seen him get right-handers out, I've seen him get left-handers out," Tracy said. "He's also a guy that you can think about starting an inning where you have for example, a left-right-left-right scenario in an inning, possibly be in a position where he's the guy who pitches the inning because he gets them all out. Obviously, we're going to explore as we go along.
"Am I ruling out the possibility of him entering into a game to get one left-handed hitter out, to possibly get you to the eighth or ninth inning? We will consider that, too. Anything is open as far as he's concerned."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.