03/29/09 6:17 PM ET
Lefty Smith leaves due to 'dead arm'
For rotation candidate, injury couldn't come at a worse moment
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
Now he's come down with "dead arm" at an even worse time.
Smith started Sunday against his former club, the Athletics, but left after 1 2/3 innings (three hits, five runs, three earned runs, two walks) and said after the contest he has been suffering from shoulder inflammation, commonly known as "dead arm." He felt it after his last start, Tuesday against the Cubs, and couldn't get it healed in time for Sunday.
If Smith, one of three players obtained from the Athletics in an offseason trade for star outfielder Matt Holliday, can't compete, the job likely will go to lefty Franklin Morales, who entered in the fifth inning on Sunday. Sunday's original plan was to have Smith and Morales combine to cover the entire game.
Smith had given up one run in the second when pitching coach Bob Apodaca visited him with two out and one on base.
Then Smith hit Kurt Suzuki -- he said because he was trying to hold back because of the arm soreness -- and the inning unraveled. He walked Chris Denorfia, gave up a Rajai Davis double, saw Orlando Cabrera reach on an error on third baseman Jeff Baker, and walked Jason Giambi before leaving.
Rockies head trainer Keith Dugger visited Smith after the Davis double. Smith said he would consult with Dugger, Apodaca and manager Clint Hurdle to see what the plan is, but it does not bode well in his attempt to win the spot.
"It happens every Spring Training," Smith said. "It's just something last year I threw through, but this year I'm probably not going to throw through it."
"It's nothing serious. I've had it in the '07, '08 and '09 Spring Trainings, and I had it once in college [at LSU]. What's bothering me the most is not being able to finish today."
Smith came down with the flu after two Cactus League appearances. Between March 3 and Tuesday, his only action was a Minor League game.
The Rockies did not plan to use a fifth starter in early April because they have three early days off. The injury could give the Rockies the opportunity to place Smith on the 15-day disabled list and save his Minor League option.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.