03/30/07 8:00 PM ET
Notes: Lopez prepares for season
Right-hander throws in Tucson while club falls to Sky Sox
By Owen Perkins / Special to MLB.com
The schedule had a half dozen Rockies slated for a brisk outing in Colorado, pitching from the possibly snow-covered mound of the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox home park an hour down the road.
Instead, half the Rockies pitching and catching staff had one more day in the sun as they joined ranks with their Asheville affiliate to take on the Kannapolis Intimidators, the White Sox Class A team on the back fields at Colorado's Spring Training complex in Tucson.
"I miss my teammates," said Rodrigo Lopez, who started the game and pitched four shutout innings of three-hit ball while the rest of the Rockies rode the bus from Denver south to Colorado Springs for their game. "I haven't seen them in a while. This time we were all going to fly together, but I missed the flight, too."
Lopez hadn't been in a game with his new Rockies teammates since March 14, mostly as a matter of chance. His previous two days to pitch fell on an off-day for the Rockies, a day against the division rival Diamondbacks, whom the Rockies were happy to keep in the dark about their new acquisition from the American League.
"I look forward to being in the clubhouse with everybody, and being in the games and talking to them," Lopez said. "I believe that everything starts in the clubhouse. I get along with the guys pretty well, but I'm looking forward to spending more time with them, to get closer."
He did get to throw to Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba, who thought he was "perfect" on the mound as he threw 57 pitches in his final tuneup.
"He got ahead, mixed it up and went inside whenever he needed to," Torrealba said. "It was really good."
Also pitching in Tucson were LaTroy Hawkins, who gave up back-to-back triples to lead off the fifth before retiring the next three hitters, the last two on strikeouts, Brian Fuentes (one inning, two strikeouts, 13 pitches, 10 for strikes), Jeremey Affeldt (one inning, one walk, 21 pitches), Many Corpas (one inning, one hit) and Ramon Ramirez, who allowed only one run though he yielded three hits and a walk to the five batters he faced in one full inning.
"Ramon really has to concentrate [on] down, instead of hard," said Rockies roving pitching coordinator Jim Wright. "Today, I'll give him a mulligan a little bit. It's a tougher day for them. They ended up having to stay and pitch in a [Class] A game at 10 o'clock. They may not be quite as sharp as they have been, but they still bore down and did the job that they had to."
Brian Lawrence, who will start the season in Triple-A and was also scheduled to pitch the exhibition game in Colorado Springs, started a separate game with Double-A Tulsa, pitching five innings and yielding one earned run on four hits while striking out four. He threw 82 pitches.
Quick catch-up: The Class A game on Friday marked Torrealba's first game since spraining his ankle running to first base in a game on Monday. Torrealba was 1-for-3 with a single and a run scored. He broke a borrowed bat in his final at-bat, flaring out to left with the bases loaded.
"I actually feel better than I thought I was going to," Torrealba said. "I got a base hit my first at-bat. I went to second on a wild pitch, and then I scored on a base hit from second, so I felt great. Throwing down to second, I had to turn to throw. It was perfect, really good."
Torrealba anticipated some swelling, playing his first game in four days, but he left Tucson with no question about being ready for Opening Day in Denver.
Roster set in stone: The Rockies filled their final roster spots after Friday's game. Center fielder Steve Finley was added, as anticipated, along with first baseman/outfielder John Mabry, who beat out outfielders Ryan Spilborghs and Alexis Gomez. Spilborghs was optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs and Gomez was designated for assignment.
Final dress: The Rockies game in Colorado Springs proved to be something of a final dress rehearsal for Opening Day, with seven of the eight position players starting the game expected to be the same ones to open the season against the D-backs in Denver on Monday.
The lineup featured Willy Taveras leading off in center, Kaz Matsui at second, Garrett Atkins at third, Todd Helton at first, Matt Holliday in left, Steve Finley playing for projected started Brad Hawpe in right, Troy Tulawitzki at short, John Mabry getting a designated hitter start and Chris Ianetta behind the plate.
With the inclement weather and game-time temperate of 42 degrees, it was not surprising to see Hawpe out of the lineup, since he is recovering from a sprained ankle suffered during a fielding drill before a game on Tuesday.
"I feel good," Hawpe said on Thursday before leaving Tucson. "I feel significantly better than yesterday, and yesterday was a lot better than the day it rolled. I don't think I'll do anything [on Thursday] as far as playing in a game. After that, I think I'm pretty much free to do stuff."
Hawpe had expected to be ready to play on Friday, but acknowledged the training staff and coaching staff -- not to mention the weather man -- would have the last word.
The game also gave the near-capacity crowd a glimpse of the talent waiting in the wings at Colorado Springs, with 2006 Rockies starters Cory Sullivan and Clint Barmes starting for the Sky Sox, along with top prospects Joe Koshansky at first, Ian Stewart at third, Omar Quintanilla at second, and Alvin Colina, who launched the game's only homer, catching. Right-hander Bobby Keppel started for the Sky Sox and earned the win with five innings of two-run ball. Speier pitched the ninth and notched a save in the 5-2 victory over the parent club.
Ubaldo Jimenez started the game for the Rockies, pitching five innings and giving up four runs on six hits and three walks while striking out four. Jimenez and Lawrence will both start the season in the Sky Sox rotation, but the club is confident that both right-handers are ready to help the Rockies if they're called on during the season.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.