Smith to get start in left in Rockies' opener
Tracy opts for left-handed hitter over Fowler in No. 2 spot
MILWAUKEE -- Rockies manager Jim Tracy will start left-handed-hitting Seth Smith in the No. 2 spot in the lineup, instead of switch-hitting center fielder Dexter Fowler, in Monday afternoon's opener against the Brewers.
As will be the case when Smith starts this season, he will play left field and leadoff man Carlos Gonzalez will move from left to center.
The Rockies are facing the Brewers' young standout right-hander Yovani Gallardo. Tracy felt Smith, who hit .293 with 15 home runs and 55 RBIs as a part-time starter and .300 with 12 of the homers against right-handed pitchers last season, was a better option than Fowler.
"The way we are set up, first several days with a right-hander tomorrow, I am going to start Seth Smith," Tracy told reporters Sunday before the team's workout at Miller Park. "Dexter, left-handed, is still working some things out. I am planning that Dexter will play Tuesday."
Smith hit .352 with one home run and 12 RBIs this spring. Fowler, who hit .266 and led the team with 27 steals last season, showed forward strides early in the spring but finished hitting .229 with two RBIs.
It's a continuation of Tracy's strategy last year of dividing his outfielders based on matchups, or who is hot at the time. He'll have to do that with five outfielders this year, with 2009 All-Star right fielder Brad Hawpe and Ryan Spilborghs, the team's only right-handed-hitting outfielder, in the mix.
Smith, 27, made his first career Opening Day start last year and homered off the D-backs' Scott Schoeneweis to tie the game in the seventh inning. The Rockies lost, 9-8.
Here is the lineup that Tracy announced for Monday's opener:
1. Carlos Gonzalez, CF
2. Seth Smith, LF
3. Todd Helton, 1B
4. Troy Tulowitzki, SS
5. Brad Hawpe, RF
6. Chris Iannetta, C
7. Ian Stewart, 3B
8. Clint Barmes, 2B
9. Ubaldo Jimenez, RHP
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.