SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies pitcher Jorge De La Rosa has had his next Cactus League start moved from Sunday to next Friday because of tightness in his left (throwing) lat muscle, Rockies manager Jim Tracy said Friday.
De La Rosa, No. 2 in the rotation behind All-Star right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, played long toss Friday and will throw a bullpen session Sunday. He will then take his regular turn against the Brewers next Friday.
Right-handed prospect Juan Nicasio will replace De La Rosa for Sunday's start against the Athletics.
Tracy said that the skipped start for De La Rosa is merely a matter of a team being cautious in Spring Training.
"If we were in the regular season, he would pitch on Sunday, but due to the way we're approaching situations like this [he will not]," Tracy said.
In a roster move Friday, Tracy announced that the Rockies have released veteran catcher Chad Moeller, who was in camp under a Minor League contract. With a crowd of candidates for the backup catcher job, the Rockies are giving Moeller, 36, a chance to find a job elsewhere.
Jose Morales, obtained in a winter trade with the Twins, and prospects Mike McKenry and Jordan Pacheco are candidates for backup duty. Also, highly touted Rockies catching prospect Wilin Rosario has recovered from a right knee injury that sidelined him last August. Rosario is available to play Saturday against the D-backs.
Backup catcher Morales shines with his bat
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies catcher Jose Morales, acquired from the Twins to be the other part of a tandem with Chris Iannetta, went into Friday's play with a .364 batting average but little attention.
That's because the hot young hitter in camp is catcher Jordan Pacheco, who went into his start Friday against the Royals hitting .400 with a home run and a team-leading seven RBIs. But Morales, 28, is here to hit, not measure media coverage.
Morales is doing exactly what the Rockies thought he could when they acquired him for Minor League left-handed pitcher Paul Berge on Dec. 16.
2010 Spring Training - Colorado Rockies
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Most backup catchers are employed primarily for their defense. That's because managers loath to use them as pinch-hitters, out of fear that the main catcher will get hurt late in the game. But Morales' defense is a work in progress. Signed originally as a shortstop, Morales has lost extensive time during his career because of injuries to both ankles. His 2007 and 2008 seasons ended prematurely because of left ankle injuries.
Catching coach Marv Foley has been paying particular attention to Morales' fundamentals all spring.
"It's more than receiving; it's working on my footwork," Morales said. "I definitely don't like talking about this anymore because it's in the past, but it's something that's there. Being hurt the last three years doesn't help. I had major surgery on my left ankle, then I had [the right ankle] cleaned this offseason. Instead of footwork coming natural, I've got to think about it more. And I still have tons to learn."
Street pleased with stuff despite low velocity
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Early March games mean nothing on the grand scale of a baseball season, but they're times of joy for Rockies closer Huston Street this year.
Street didn't have any of those last year, since he missed the entire spring and the first 69 games of the regular season with right shoulder soreness. Street gave up a run in each of his first two appearances, but has been scoreless in his last two.
"I've been excited about every outing I've had so far," Street said. "Too often, you can put too much emphasis on the results of the early outings. It's like judging a hitter on the first day of his first swings. It doesn't really make any sense. It doesn't make any sense to judge someone on the last day of spring.
"The bottom line is, 'Am I progressing physically?' The answer to that is yes. And it's developing consistency. One pitch can cost you an entire inning and make for a bad outing. But in my four outings I've gotten consistently better."
Health has been key for Street. In 2009, Street converted 35-of-37 save chances, but missed much of September with a shoulder injury and was a key figure in two of the losses to the Phillies in the National League Division Series. Street earned 20 saves last season but at times lacked sharpness because of the time off.
Thus far in camp, Street has been happy with the action on his pitches. He has thrown 89-91 mph this spring. That's below his best, but he noted that at times during the regular season his velocity is not as high as at others, though he can adjust to whatever speed he has that day.
"I'm not trying to break camp throwing 96, and I'm not trying to break camp throwing 86," he said. "I hope to be somewhere in the middle, around 89-93"
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.