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02/23/11 7:42 PM EST

Cactus League opener comes quickly

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Rockies open the Cactus League schedule against the D-backs on Saturday, on just the fourth day since position players began practicing. Tracy said the Rockies will have to be efficient to put in the necessary strategies, but it's not as if they're being rushed.

Tracy said the Rockies wanted a spring in which pitchers and catchers had eight days together.

Tracy issues challenge to Rockies

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies manager Jim Tracy used the theater room -- one of the key features of new Salt River Fields at Talking Stick -- to drive home his points in his address to the club Wednesday, before the first full-squad workout.

Video coordinator Brian Jones formulated a presentation based on key numbers relating to the 2010 Rockies.

"Some of the intriguing numbers I put up with no explanation next to them, I asked them if they knew what those numbers represented," Tracy said. "One of them was 833. Somebody later told me when we went outside to stretch was that was how many runs we scored last year. I said, 'No, that's how many days we were on the disabled list.'"

There were other key numbers.

"We had the number 58, which was the number of one-run games we played last year," Tracy said. "We had right behind that the number 30, because that's how many times we got beat by one run last year. We had the number 10 up there, which was the number of times we had ninth-inning leads, got beat and walked off on the road.

"And yet, all that being said, we were 82-66 on Sept. 19 and playing a game to tie for first -- that we led by five runs in the third inning."

Tracy's point was the Rockies have learned to deal with adversity. Now they must bridge the gap between a tough club with some success and a club that reaches the ultimate level of success.

"There's an air about them, the way they go about their business, that strongly suggests to me they realize some very special places we've been together over the past few years," Tracy said. "Basically, the bottom line is this: What we've done and what this organization has accomplished over the last four years with a National League championship, a Wild Card championship and three winning seasons over the last four years, two of which we've won 90 to 90-plus games, we know how to be good.

"The challenge that was set forth today was, are we willing to make the commitment to be great?"

Cook easing back into action

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander Aaron Cook, who had been bothered by soreness in his throwing shoulder in recent days, played catch at 180 feet Wednesday and could throw a bullpen session Thursday.

In addition to the soreness, Cook dealt with a stomach bug.

"I think that made my arm feel worse," he said.

Cook has not been scheduled for his first Cactus League appearance.

Manager Jim Tracy said Wednesday that right-handed ace Ubaldo Jimenez will not throw more than two innings against the D-backs in Saturday's Cactus League opener. Also scheduled to pitch are Greg Reynolds, Claudio Vargas and Billy Buckner, with Keith Weiser, Andrew Johnston and Bruce Billings as backups -- available in case one of the scheduled pitchers has trouble during his time in the game.

Pitching in Sunday's intrasquad game will be left-handed No. 2 starter Jorge De La Rosa, Felipe Paulino, Juan Nicasio, Clayton Mortensen, Christian Friedrich, Cory Riordan, Rex Brothers, Casey Weathers, Sean White, Alan Jackson and John Maine.

CarGo swayed by Tulowitzki's extension

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- One of the key recruiting tools for the Rockies in convincing outfielder Carlos Gonzalez to sign a seven-year, $80 million contract was signing Troy Tulowitzki to a seven-year extension that will keep him with the club through 2020.

"Tulo came out and I decided to stay with the team," said Gonzalez, who said he wasn't sure about the extension before. "It showed me they wanted to win.

"I was going to have another three, four years here. Everybody wants to get to free agency. I wasn't in a rush."

Stewart looking to be key bat for Rockies

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies third baseman Ian Stewart has backed up about 10 inches off home plate in an effort to keep from being jammed, or scooting out of the way of the inside pitch only for it to be called a strike. If he's able to hit pitches he missed last year, when he finished at .256 with 18 home runs and 61 RBIs, after hitting 25 homers with 70 RBIs the previous year (but only a .228 batting average), Stewart believes he can become a middle-of-the-order hitter.

"I definitely feel I have the ability to be anything from a No. 4 to No. 6 hitter," Stewart said. "We have 3 and 4 locked in [Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki]. I feel I can definitely see myself in the No. 5 spot behind Tulo, but at the end of the day I have to prove it to them."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.