Rosario, Friedrich included in first roster cuts
Top prospects among 14 players sent to Minor League camp
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Rockies sent 14 players to Minor League camp on Sunday, including key catching prospect Wilin Rosario and left-hander Christian Friedrich, the team's top pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.
Rosario has appeared in just two Cactus League game as he recovers from a right knee injury he suffered in August. Being sent from camp does not necessarily preclude a player from appearing in a Major League Spring Training game.
The 22-year-old Rosario was hitting .285 with a .342 on-base percentage through 73 games last year when he underwent surgery. Rosario appeared in the Futures Game during All-Star Weekend and is a member of the 40-man Major League roster.
2010 Spring Training - Colorado Rockies
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Spring Training Info
MLB.com ranked Rosario as the Rockies' No. 2 prospect, behind recent top pick Tyler Matzek, a left-handed pitcher who is in Minor League camp. Friedrich is listed at No. 3.
Other members of the 40-man Major League roster sent to Minor League camp are right-handed pitchers Bruce Billings and Casey Weathers, infielder Hector Gomez and outfielder Cole Garner. The Rockies also sent out left-handed pitcher Greg Smith, a member of the rotation at the start of last season who was a non-roster invitee to camp this year.
Right-handers Billy Buckner, Alan Johnson, Andrew Johnston and Adam Jorgensen, left-hander Keith Weiser, infielder Thomas Field and outfielder Tim Wheeler joined the group sent to the Minors.
Veteran catcher Chad Moeller left camp on Saturday. The Rockies have 48 players, including 13 non-roster invitees, remaining in Major League camp.
Stewart returns as DH in Monday's 'B' game
PHOENIX -- Rockies third baseman Ian Stewart, who hasn't played since the Cactus League opener because of a right knee sprain, will return as a designated hitter in Monday afternoon's "B" game against the Angels, Rockies manager Jim Tracy said on Sunday.
Stewart hopes to have enough at-bats and see plenty of live action to be ready for regular duty when the season begins.
"We're going to get him to the field, and you've got to get him playing in the field and taking at-bats that way," Tracy said. "I can't answer it today until we create more of a forum for this guy to get out there, play his complete game and see what it's all about at this point in time."
Pitcher John Maine, who is less than a year removed from right shoulder surgery but has been very impressive in camp, is scheduled to throw three innings in the "B" game.
Catcher Wilin Rosario, who has made two appearances in Cactus League play, will catch. The Rockies officially sent Rosario, one of their top prospects, to Minor League camp on Sunday, but they want to see as much of him as possible.
Utility player Alfredo Amezaga, who was limited to one Minor League game last season because of microfracture surgery on his right knee, will participate in the "B" game as well.
Mortensen working to adjust timing of delivery
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander Clayton Mortensen is enjoying his trip to the pitching laboratory.
Mortensen is a candidate for the rotation spot that opened because of Aaron Cook's sore right shoulder and fractured right ring finger. But before his candidacy becomes serious, manager Jim Tracy and pitching coach Bob Apodaca have asked Mortesen to work on the timing of his delivery.
Instead of pitching extended innings, Mortensen is working in short shifts. He gave up one hit and struck out one in two scoreless innings Saturday against the Padres.
"He went out there and threw very well with his sinker," Tracy said.
Mortensen said it was "very professional" of Tracy to tell him that he's not sacrificing his dream of making the Majors, but to make adjustments.
The 25-year-old came to the Rockies in a trade for Minor League right-hander Ethan Hollingsworth in late January. He made one start for the A's last year and was the Cardinals' first-round Draft pick out of Gonzaga in 2007.
"For me, it's kind of a sense I can relax and focus on what I need to work on, perfect that, and all of the other pieces will fall in," Mortensen said. "My job is not to try and win a spot right off the bat, it's to be able to establish what I need to have fixed and have that be able to repeat.
"By the time Spring Training's over, I'm ready to go whenever they need me, whether it be in April or whether it be down the road. That's my goal, to have my delivery and everything ready, so if they need me I'm able to go."
The adjustments are common ones that Apodaca has used to help straighten out pitchers since he joined the Rockies in 2003 -- pulling the ball out of the glove quicker to help timing, staying on the back leg and keeping the head moving toward home plate instead of tilting to the side.
Mortensen said Apodaca sold him on the changes by showing him how much better his location and movement are when his timing is correct.
Mortensen is scheduled to pitch Thursday when the Rockies face the White Sox. Right-handed ace Ubaldo Jimenez and rotation candidate Greg Reynolds are also scheduled to pitch that day, but with Minor Leaguers in camp and the possibility of "B" games, there are other opportunities for pitchers to work extended innings if the Rockies deem it necessary.
Right-hander Esmil Rogers, who filled starting and relief roles for the Rockies last season, is considered the frontrunner for the vacant rotation spot coming out of camp. Former Mets standout John Maine, who is returning from right shoulder surgery, is another option.
Young flashes speed, rust on basepaths
PHOENIX -- Rockies infielder Eric Young Jr. is back, and so is his speed.
Young didn't appear in a game until Saturday because he was completing his comeback from a broken right tibia he suffered last season. He was able to finish the year on the active roster, though he was still slowed by the injury when he arrived at Spring Training.
In Sunday's 9-4 loss to the A's at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, Young showed his signature speed by beating out a bunt for a single in the third inning. He also showed his rust when pitcher Trevor Cahill picked him off first base. Still, it was a step forward for Young, who entered 2011 hoping to win a roster spot in the beginning of the year.
"You have concerns about the physical part of it with his leg, but I didn't see any signs of him having any issues with it," said Rockies manager Jim Tracy. "Obviously, the swing and everything else, that's going to come as he continues to get more at-bats, which we'll be looking for from him."
Infielder Jonathan Herrera started at third base and went 2-for-2 with two runs scored and a double. At .387, Herrera has put himself in line for increased playing time this year, Tracy said.
"It's just what makes the most sense as far as the whole club is concerned, and obviously Jonathan Herrera is very much a part of that picture," Tracy said. "I will not shy away from that."
Non-roster invitee Hernan Iribarren, who appeared in 24 games for the Brewers in 2008 and '09, has a .300 average in frequent playing time this spring. He's on the radar for utility work, either in the beginning of the year or at some point during the regular season. "He's basically played himself onto the radar screen -- he's got energy, he's shown us some versatility, he's taken very good at-bats and competed very well," manager Jim Tracy said. ... The pitching schedule has ace Ubaldo Jimenez and right-handed rotation candidates Greg Reynolds and Clayton Mortensen stacked on the same day. Jimenez will throw in Thursday's Minor League game and Reynolds will face the White Sox. He is scheduled to go six innings. Tracy said he wanted to see Reynolds against a somewhat regular lineup, with the hitters staying deeper into the game.
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.