© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
03/29/08 2:00 AM ET
Bowie, Podsednik crack final roster
Rockies opt to send Speier, Sullivan to Colorado Springs
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- Left-hander Micah Bowie and outfielder Scott Podsednik came to Spring Training having to prove to the Rockies they were healthy before they could prove anything else. Both passed their tests and were rewarded with spots on the Rockies' 25-man roster for Monday's season opener against the Cardinals. Outfielder Cory Sullivan and right-handed relief pitcher Ryan Speier, each of whom contributed during a late-2007 run that eventually put the Rockies in their first World Series, were optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs. Manager Clint Hurdle announced the moves after the Rockies' final spring game, a 12-4 victory over the D-backs in an exhibition game at Chase Field. Bowie started on Friday night and gave up no runs and one hit in one inning of a game that was thrown entirely by Rockies relievers. For the spring, Bowie tossed scoreless ball in all but one of his 12 appearances, counting an exhibition against the Mexican National Team. He gave up nine hits, struck out nine and walked five in 14 1/3 innings. Feeling the bullpen needed a left-hander, the Rockies went with Bowie over Speier, who had a Minor League option. Bowie had the right to look elsewhere had he not made the team. The only other lefty reliever is setup man Brian Fuentes. "That's not an easy decision to make," Hurdle said. "He finished as strong as anybody for us last year. I told him this was one of those rare occasions. I didn't send him down and ask him to come up with another pitch or throw more strikes or pitch it lower. You have an option left, and we're going to exercise it. "Bowie has shown us some good downhill plane. We think he can be another versatile guy out there for us. He can not only go after left-handers, but definitely can pitch an inning. He's a little sneaky, and he's got some Major League experience." Bowie made the A's roster in 2003 but dealt with elbow pain during the season and wound up having Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery. He didn't make it to the Majors again until 2006 with the Nationals. Last year, also with the Nationals, he went 4-3 with a 4.55 ERA in 30 games, including eight starts, but his year ended in September because of a sports hernia. "Anytime you get hurt in baseball," he said, "you've got to come in and prove you're healthy, at least from what I've seen." The Rockies entered spring without an experienced situational lefty. He beat out fellow non-roster invitees Chris George and John Koronka, each of whom will be at Colorado Springs, and prospect Josh Newman, who also will be with the Sky Sox. "I'm excited for any opportunity I can to come in and help the team win," Bowie said. "This is a great group of guys here, a tremendous amount of talent." Bowie's medical dossier has nothing on that of Podsednik, who has undergone sports hernia surgeries at the end of the last three seasons. He was limited to 62 games last season because of disabled list stints for a strained right abductor and a strained left ribcage muscle. "It is a satisfying feeling, because I came to spring and accomplished what I wanted to accomplish -- first and foremost, to stay healthy and prove to the club and myself that I have an idea of how to keep myself healthy," said Podsednik, who hit .302 in Cactus League games. Last season's .286 batting average when the Rockies needed him most, and the fact he's considered a stronger defender were attributes in Sullivan's favor. But the Rockies also wanted organizational depth. Had the Rockies kept Sullivan, they would have less depth because Podsednik almost certainly would have asked to be released to seek a Major League job. The Rockies will pay a pretty penny for depth. They signed Sullivan for $1 million -- a high price for a Triple-A player -- and Podsednik will earn $750,000. Hurdle noted that the Rockies' willingness to pay Sullivan the money they're paying him in Triple-A was questioned, but the club feels it is stronger for it. Podsednik, who proved he could track balls and make accurate throws, could be a speedy alternative when Willy Taveras does not start and can play either corner. Podsednik stole 70 bases for the Brewers in 2004 and has had 40 or more steals three other times and will be a valuable asset as a pinch-runner late in games. Right-handed-hitting Ryan Spilborghs is the fourth outfielder. He provides more run-production potential than Podsednik or Sullivan, and he has capably handled all three outfield spots. Hurdle will have to balance the playing time of Spilborghs, Podsednik and Jeff Baker, an infielder/outfielder who last year got starts in right field. "Can we come up with a different dynamic that can make the bench a little different and also give the club some strength in some other areas?" Hurdle said. "That's what we're looking at with Podsednik." Right-handers Josh Towers and Jose Capellan cleared waivers on Friday and were assigned to Colorado Springs, where they will be in the starting rotation. The Rockies optioned catcher/first baseman Edwin Bellorin to Colorado Springs to complete their end-of-spring moves. Also, the Mets sent Rule 5 Draft pick Steven Register, a right-handed reliever, back to the Rockies for $25,000.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.