MESA, Ariz. -- After encouraging results in a Monday morning "B" game, Rockies third baseman Ian Stewart will start Wednesday night's Cactus League game against the Rangers in Surprise, Ariz., at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
Stewart suffered a sprained right knee in the Cactus League opener against the D-backs and has not appeared in a regular game since. However, he went 2-for-4 with a walk as a designated hitter against the Angeles in Monday's "B" game.
Stewart will play third base and face difficult Ranges starter C.J. Wilson.
"Ian and I had a conversation this morning and he's to the point where he's ready," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "We got him in that 'B' game, we got his feet wet.
"We're going to start him at third base. I walked out there and told him. It's C.J. Wilson, but [Stewart is] an everyday guy. Even though the guy's left-handed, why wait?"
On Tuesday morning, Stewart reported not feeling any unusual soreness in the knee. He is looking to playing in the field for a few innings as he regains his conditioning. Stewart hopes to be ready to break camp when the regular season opens.
Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta was hit by a pitch just above his left elbow by a pitch from Cubs sarter Randy Wells in the second inning Tuesday. Iannetta stayed in the game, walked twice and scored a run, but he will be examined by the team's medical staff. "We'll see how he's doing tomorrow, but it left a couple of real good seam impressions," Tracy said. "He got hit pretty good." ... Left-hander Jorge De La Rosa, skipped Sunday because of tightness in his left lat, threw a bullpen session Monday and is scheduled to start Friday's Cactus League game against the Brewers at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Jordan Pacheco, vying to debut on the Opening Day roster, was his catcher. ... Righty John Maine, who threw well in a "B" game against the Angels on Monday, is scheduled to pitch again on Friday, but it hasn't been determined if it'll be in the game against the Brewers, a Minor League game or a yet-to-be-organized "B" game.
Rogers' confidence strong after good outing
MESA, Ariz. -- Rockies right-handed pitcher Esmil Rogers labored through a bullpen session before Tuesday afternoon's game against the Cubs. But the club isn't judging whether he belongs in the season-opening rotation on how he warms up.
Rogers figures his ability, and the confidence he has in that ability, are just enough. And after he held the Cubs to one hit with three strikeouts while facing the minimum 15 batters in five innings, who's to argue?
"My bullpen was not really good, but when I came to the dugout, I was thinking, 'Forget about the bullpen, now is the game,'" Rogers said. "I was thinking, 'I'm the man on the mound. I can throw any pitch.'"
2010 Spring Training - Colorado Rockies
News & Features
- Nelson misses finale with stomach ailment
- Rutledge OK after collision with Cuddyer
- Colvin victim of numbers game with Rox
- Torrealba to play mentor to Rosario
- Volstad aims to contribute as reliever
Sights & Sounds
Spring Training Info
The only hit Rogers allowed was an Aramis Ramirez single to left to lead off the second inning. As is the case often in Spring Training, Ramirez tried to stretch it into a double even though he had absolutely no chance against the strong throwing arm of the Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez.
Manager Jim Tracy said Rogers, who threw just 60 pitches, provided "brilliant innings," with a compact delivery and a brisk enough pace to keep fielders sharp. Tracy's hanging question is the follow-up: Since last season, while making 28 appearances that included eight starts, Rogers sometimes followed good games up with bad ones.
Similar work in his next start will make for an easy decision.
"I'm not ready to commit to anything today, but that is a very challenging statement that he made today," Tracy said.
Against the Cubs, Rogers worked in his developing changeup to strike out the final two batters he faced, Carlos Pena and Alfonso Soriano. Still, the fastball was his priority. After seeing a strong outing in his last start was marred by a three-run homer by the Brewers' Ryan Braun, he wanted to eliminate the mistakes.
"If [catcher Chris] Iannetta called a fastball away, that's where I wanted to put the fastball," Rogers said. "If he called it inside, I wanted to sink it a little bit more. That's what I used the first time through the lineup, sinker and fastball straight."
Right-handers Greg Reynolds, who pitches Thursday against the White Sox, and John Maine -- who pitched well in a "B" game against the Angels on Monday and is returning from shoulder surgery -- are the competitors. Righty Clayton Mortensen was a competitor, but the Rockies optioned him to Minor League camp Tuesday and want him to complete work on adjustments to his delivery.
But Rogers isn't looking over his shoulder at anyone.
"I don't think about competition, just doing my job," Rogers said.
Nelson, Mortensen among Rockies cuts
MESA, Ariz. -- The Rockies' competition for the open starting rotation spot became slightly clearer Tuesday when they optioned right-hander Clayton Mortensen to Minor League camp.
The Rockies also optioned two players who saw action with them late last season, infielder Chris Nelson and catcher Michael McKenry. All three, however, are expected to push for Major League playing time this season.
"As I tried to impress upon them, they are in our mix," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.
Mortensen, acquired from the Athletics in January, was considered a competitor with right-handers Esmil Rogers -- who started Tuesday afternoon against the Cubs and is considered the leader for the job that opened when Aaron Cook suffered right shoulder and right ring finger injuries -- Greg Reynolds and John Maine. Reynolds is healthy after battling injuries all last season. Maine is ahead of schedule in his comeback from right shoulder surgery. However, the Rockies want Mortensen to complete changes in the timing of his delivery. Mortensen, who started his only appearance for the Athletics last season (0-0, 4.50 ERA), has an effective sinker when everything is on time. A 2007 first-round pick by the Cardinals out of Gonzaga, has a 1.50 ERA in three career appearances covering six innings.
Tracy said he wanted Mortensen to begin the year in the Triple-A Colorado Springs rotation and be able to step right in if something happens at the Major League level in the season's early days. A cautious estimate from general manager Dan O'Dowd has Cook missing 8-11 starts, so the Rockies want to be covered if something else happens in the meantime.
"We're very confident in what we've seen of this guy, and it kind of opened the door for us to entertain the though of, 'What would Felipe Paulino look like if we could move him to the bullpen and he could just let it hang out?'" Tracy said. "But if something happens to the rotation, what's the option?
"This guy comes into play. Exactly what I explained to him was he's not doing us or himself a service by sitting in our bullpen and getting a couple of innings here, a couple innings there."
Nelson, the Rockies' top pick in 2004 out of high school, made several standout defensive plays this spring but went 0-for-3 on Tuesday, dropping his spring average to .130. Nelson hit .280 in 17 Major League games last season. Jonathan Herrera has all but locked up a spot as a multi-position infielder and the Rockies are taking a long look at non-roster candidate Hernan Iribarren.
Also, there might not be enough at-bats for Nelson the rest of the spring. Eric Young Jr., has completed his recovery from a broken right tibia, starting third baseman Ian Stewart has recovered from a knee injury and will return to the lineup, and starting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki figures to increase his playing time.
"I told Nellie, he should feel very good about where he's at," Tracy said. "He's at that phase in his career, he's gone from never getting that opportunity, because we weren't seeing anything, to making a contribution to a winning ballclub a year ago. Yet he's still at that stage where he's going to be involved in some back-and-forth."
McKenry, the Rockies' seventh-round pick in 2006, was 2-for-10 and drew two walks in nine brief appearances in Cactus League play. He went 0-for-6 in eight games with the Rockies last season, after hitting .265 with 10 home runs and 49 RBIs in 99 games at Triple-A Colorado Springs. Organization product Jordan Pacheco, former Twins catcher Jose Morales and former Cardinals catcher Matt Pagnozzi are competing for the job backing up Chris Iannetta.
"I told him that I don't think there's any question in my mind that eventually he's going to be a big league catcher, but right now where we're at we feel there are some other people that may be ahead of him, but not be discouraged by that," Tracy said. "Because I don't know if that's right."
The Rockies have 42 players in Major League camp.
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.