03/27/08 8:25 PM ET
Hurdle mum on roster decisions
Open outfield, bullpen spots likely to be settled on Friday
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
There will be a spot for just one of them when the team leaves after Friday's game for St. Louis, where the defending National League champion Rockies will open the 2008 season.
Indications are a decision on a left-handed-hitting reserve outfielder has been made, but it hasn't been revealed. Manager Clint Hurdle wants to protect the roster as long as possible. He said he will make an announcement on Friday. He'll also settle the last relief spot, which is between left-hander Micah Bowie and right-hander Ryan Speier.
Podsednik, originally thought to be signed only if there was an injury, is believed to be the front-runner based on his strong spring and the way his speed could help the offense. But until anyone says otherwise, there is no answer.
Both played on Thursday. Podsednik went 0-for-2 after replacing Matt Holliday in left field, and has a .317 spring average. Sullivan, considered the better defender and originally thought to have the inside shot because his entire professional career has been with the Rockies, went 1-for-1 with a run scored on Thursday and is hitting .256.
Regardless of the decision, both feel they did what they could to make it positive.
"I think I came in prepared either way," said Podsednik, who has been a starting center fielder and left fielder with the Brewers and White Sox. "I felt like I have come into spring and have done all I can do. I focused on coming in and playing my game and let whatever decision is made just come. I'll be able to sleep at night with whatever decision comes.
"As a younger player coming in, I would have associated myself with all that off-the-field stuff. I'd have probably got caught up in it and put a little more pressure on myself to go out and compete."
Sullivan, who started for the Rockies in center field in 2006 and contributed off the bench in late 2007 after spending much of the year at Triple-A Colorado Springs, maintains his confidence.
"It's not a competition," Sullivan said. "I came out here prepared to get ready for the season and that's what I'm doing."
Whatever the decision, there's a good chance the Rockies will lose the one they don't pick.
Podsednik almost certainly will look for an opportunity to start. Proving he was healthy this spring after two years of muscle strains, Podsednik does have an impressive resume. Sullivan is due $1 million this year, and the Rockies are not inclined to pay that amount for someone to play in Colorado Springs.
Both players hit left and play center field, which means the Rockies have two options -- right-handed-hitting Ryan Spilborghs and the Podsednik-Sullivan winner -- when regular center fielder Willy Taveras doesn't start. Late in games, they provide different attributes.
For Podsednik, it's speed. He has 224 steals in 657 Major League games. This spring, he has put that speed to better use in the field than he has in the past when he was dealing with various muscle injuries.
Podsednik has never played the reserve role the Rockies could be asking of him.
"I'm going to talk with Ryan Spilborghs about it," Podsednik said. "That guy came off the bench and did a great job for these guys last year, so I'd love to sit down, pick his brain and talk about the way he prepares himself to go up and hit later in the games. Hopefully, I'll be able to make that sound adjustment."
Sullivan, however, has a much stronger arm than Podsednik and has demonstrated high-level skills with the glove. Last year, also, he hit .286 after coming up from Colorado Springs.
One reason Sullivan didn't hold the starting job in 2006 was he struck out 100 times. He fanned 25 times in 140 at-bats last season.
"I've had experience starting," Sullivan said. "I've had experience coming off the bench. I'm going to try to draw off that experience. It's my job."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.