Pomeranz exits with tightness in right hip
Top pitching prospect doesn't expect to miss next start
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Rockies' No. 2 prospect, Drew Pomeranz, was midway through his most promising start of the Cactus League season when he consulted with coaches and training staff and ended up leaving Tuesday's game against the Dodgers after two perfect innings due to tightness in his right hip.
"My hip's a little tight," Pomeranz said after his departure. "It was tight in warm ups, too. I was seeing if it was going to warm up at all. It's just an annoying little thing I felt. I could have still pitched, but there's no point in pushing it."
Pomeranz, a 23-year-old southpaw, will likely be a member of the Rockies' rotation in 2012. He has felt the tightness in his lead hip in the past, including after his previous Cactus League starts. He told pitching coach Bob Apodaca and a trainer about the stiffness while warming up and kept the team appraised of his status after each inning on the mound.
"I knew what it was -- it's not like something that came out of nowhere," Pomeranz said. "It's been getting a little tight after starts. Usually I feel it the next day. I don't know if it's just getting back into the swing of things or what. Usually the next day it's a little tight and goes away. It's nothing I'm worried about."
Pomeranz expected to pitch four innings, and does not expect to miss a start as a result of the tightness. He's pitched seven innings in three Cactus League starts, yielding no runs on three hits, two walks and seven strikeouts. He showed pinpoint control with good movement on his fastball against the Dodgers, striking out two without letting a ball out of the infield.
"My curveball was real good today," Pomeranz said. "My fastball's cutting good. I don't do it on purpose, but it cut real good on the ball I struck [Andre] Ethier out with. It's the best I've felt command-wise in a while."
Pomeranz was the player to be named later in last summer's trade that sent Ubaldo Jimenez to the Indians. He was Cleveland's first-round pick, fifth overall, in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, and made his debut with the Rockies in September, going 2-1 with a 5.40 ERA in four starts spanning 18 1/3 innings. He struck out 13 and walked five.
Blake continues to deal with stiff neck
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Worse than opening his Cactus League season 0-for-9, Casey Blake is dealing with a nagging injury which is keeping him in a holding zone.
Blake may be approaching a point at which no news is bad news. He was out of commission for a second consecutive day after waking up Monday with a stiff neck.
"It's still a stiff neck," Blake said. "I slept on it wrong and it's kind of lingering around a little bit. It's a little better today. I've got a little more motion today. Hopefully we'll just treat it today and see how it feels tomorrow."
The 38-year-old third baseman was acquired to give the Rockies stability at third while they wait for their young talent to mature, but so far Blake has posed more questions than answers.
Blake's neck is especially concerning considering his season-ending neck surgery last Sept. 6. The hope is that the issue is unrelated, but some of the circumstances are too similar to cast aside.
"Last year, I woke up with a stiff neck and it kind of stayed around," Blake recalled. "I had the surgery. I'm not feeling anything [unusual] down my arms or anything like that. It's more muscular up around the neck. It's just a stiff neck."
While he tried to play through it last year in the midst of the season, he is being cautious in Spring Training, eager to avoid any setbacks.
"This is more of a slept-on-it-wrong kind of thing," Blake said.
Rosario improving behind the plate
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- One of the bigger battles in Rockies camp is the quest for a backup catcher behind likely starter Ramon Hernandez.
Wilin Rosario is prominent in the mix, though having gone from Double-A to a September callup last year, the Rockies might prefer to see him get regular play in Colorado Springs rather than bide his time on the big league bench.
Rosario is making it a difficult decision, however, showing an ability to quickly assimilate lessons both at and behind the plate, and Monday's game against the Padres helped to further make his case. He shortened his swing at manager Jim Tracy's recommendation, and after some issues with blocking balls against the Brewers on Sunday, he quickly changed his approach, earning the instant appreciation of his manager.
The 23-year-old backstop went 2-for-3 with a walk on Monday, capping his day with a three-run homer in the seventh. He also made several key blocks behind the dish.
"Sometimes, when you're out of control, you need somebody to let you know what you're doing," Rosario said of Tracy's tutelage and his tighter swing. "That's what I've been practicing for the last couple days, being more in control when I swing."
In Tracy's mind, it was more a mental issue than a mechanical issue, and Rosario's openness to change his approach spoke volumes to the skipper.
"The swing was too big," Tracy said. "He was trying to hit balls like the one he hit [Monday]. And as a result, he got long, flying off, out of control swings, and we just had a conversation about, 'Go up there and be a hitter, because you're a very good hitter. Let the thing that happened today just happen because you're taking a good, solid pass at the ball.'"
Rosario's tweaks were relatively minor, but they were the kinds of little things that made the difference between losing a close game on Sunday and a convincing win on Monday.
"He's listening," Tracy said. "And that's what you ask for. When there's little things like that that makes a huge difference in a one-run game, when we've got information like that, you need to listen. This kid is listening and deserves the credit. When he allows himself to be the way he was [Monday], he's a special baseball player, there's no getting around it."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.