CIN@COL: Blake hammers a two-run homer to take lead

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Rockies unconditionally released third baseman Casey Blake on Tuesday, which most likely means the club will go young at the position to start the season.

Blake, 38, signed a $2 million, non-guaranteed contract with the club during the offseason, after his 2011 season with the Dodgers was shortened because of neck surgery. According to the contract, the Rockies owed Blake $491,000.

An 0-for-14 start to the spring and a neck injury that cost him a week put him behind. In the last several days, Blake had a two-hit game and a two-run homer. Blake finished the spring hitting .150 (3-for-20).

"Once we made the decision that Casey was not going to make our club, we wanted to do what was best for him," Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd said in the club's press release. "It was an absolute pleasure to have Casey wear a Rockies uniform. His professionalism and work ethic were tremendous additions to our camp and we wish him the best of luck."

Blake has batted .264 with 264 doubles, 18 triples, 167 home runs and 616 RBIs in 1,265 career games with the Blue Jays, Twins, Indians and Dodgers. His reaction was gracious.

"I understand the decision," Blake said. "I appreciated the opportunity and wish them success."

Chris Nelson, 26, the Rockies' No. 1 Draft pick in 2004, has received ample opportunity at third base in camp and entered Tuesday with a .267 batting average, one home run and three RBIs.

The club also has been taking a longer look at Jordan Pacheco, 26, at third base. Pacheco, whose best defensive position has been catcher, entered his start at third on Tuesday with a .436 batting average, one home run and seven RBIs.

"We have younger alternatives that we like, that we will continue to evaluate," O'Dowd said.

It's not clear if the release of Blake will help the chances of utility man Jonathan Herrera, 27, to make the Opening Day roster. Herrera entered Tuesday hitting .385 this spring and has played multiple positions defensively. The only issue is Herrera has a Minor League option, which means he can be sent down without being exposed to other clubs via waivers.

Nelson and infielder-outfielder Eric Young Jr., 26, who entered Tuesday hitting .278 with six stolen bases and is battling for an Opening Day spot, have exhausted their Minor League options.

The departure of Blake could allow catching prospect Wilin Rosario, 23, to make the Opening Day roster. Having Rosario would allow Pacheco to be freed from from backup catching duties, and on days he doesn't start manager Jim Tracy could use him in offensive situations. Veteran non-roster candidate Wil Nieves, 34, is another backup catching possibility.

Moscoso works into fifth inning of Triple-A game

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander Guillermo Moscoso, still considered a competitor for a starting rotation spot, held the Angels to two runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings of a Triple-A game Tuesday at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

Moscoso is a candidate for the rotation but could be expected to make the team in a long-relief capacity.

The Rockies acquired Moscoso, 28, from the Athletics along with left-hander Josh Outman for outfielder Seth Smith on Jan. 16. Outman is a candidate for a long-relief spot, as is righty Alex White. Outman and White are scheduled to pitch Wednesday against the White Sox.

Moscoso said "Minor League game" doesn't accurately describe his outing.

"Kendrys Morales, Maicer Izturis, Chris Iannetta. ... They had, like, six guys from their regular lineup," Moscoso said. "That was something good. My command was really good today. I was working down in the zone, my curveball was good and my changeup was good."

Guthrie works on pitch location, gaining info

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies pitcher Jeremy Guthrie worked on locating his fastball low and inside to right-handed hitters, his changeup and his curveball for six innings against the D-backs on Tuesday.

The stats -- 10 hits, five of them for extra bases, and six runs, four earned, in a 7-3 loss -- suggest the Opening Day starter needs more work.

"I didn't accomplish it, but I worked on it," Guthrie said. "It exposed the things I need to work on. It's about executing pitches."

But Guthrie threw 90 pitches and felt strong doing it. What's likely is one more short Cactus League start before he opens the season April 6 against the Astros.

Guthrie has spent the spring gathering information on National League West hitters that he'll be facing during the season. Tuesday helped in that respect. From his days with the Orioles, who traded him to the Rockies before camp, he knew the D-backs' Aaron Hill, Lyle Overbay and John McDonald -- all former Blue Jays. But the rest, he is still learning.

"It's nice to throw pitches, make mistakes, execute pitches and see how they react," Guthrie said. "Every pitch is an information pitch."

Worth noting

•  Rockies outfielder Tyler Colvin was foiled by his own uniform during Tuesday's 7-3 loss to the D-backs.

With two on and two out in the fifth, Colvin camped beneath a routine fly ball off the bat of Ryan Roberts. However, as he reached to catch it, his glove became hung on a button of the jersey. It turned out to be an odd two-out error.

"It never happened before," Colvin said. "Luckily, it happened in Spring Training instead of during the season."

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