06/22/11 8:07 PM EST
O'Dowd may seek pitching help at Deadline
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
"We'll have a better idea where we're at and what we're going to do to position ourselves toward [July] 31, so a lot will tell over the next four weeks," O'Dowd said Wednesday.
The Rockies have been tested by injuries to starting rotation members De La Rosa and right-hander Esmil Rogers, who hasn't thrown in the Majors since early May because of lat and midsection strains, as well as unexpected downturns by third baseman Ian Stewart and center fielder Dexter Fowler, both of whom have been sent to Triple-A Colorado Springs.
Although several call-ups have actually helped lift the Rockies out of their May slump and back to 2 1/2 games behind the National League West-leading D-backs going into Wednesday night's game against the Indians, pitching looks to be an area of need.
- 131 wins
- 121 wins
Righty Jhoulys Chacin, who made the season-opening rotation for the first time this year, and righty Juan Nicasio, called up last month from Double-A, hold a high level of responsibility given their inexperience. Chacin has been especially clutch, given that ace righty Ubaldo Jimenez is only beginning to approach his expected form.
"When you lose De La Rosa, we've had guys that have filled in admirably, but you're still missing a guy that was a huge piece of your starting rotation, O'Dowd said. "I said all along, even when we were struggling offensively for so long, I still feel the issues with our club are going to come down to our pitching.
"Jorge was at a perfect stage of his career to take that jump that it looked like he was about to take. If we were out looking for anything, it would be to continue to improve our pitching."
Veteran first baseman Todd Helton also said as much earlier Wednesday on The Jim Rome Show, saying the Rockies "need help" to reach their goals.
During the interview, Helton said the Rockies are good enough to be a playoff team now but that help, whether it's from a trade or someone in the Minor League system, would be needed to make them a World Series championship threat. He reiterated that when approached later Wednesday.
"Whether it's Esmil Rogers coming back healthy or some kid in the Minor Leagues or whatever, the reality of it is teams that do make it usually have somebody that's traded for or comes up from the Minor Leagues, kind of like Ubaldo [Jimenez in 2007] when he came up and pitched so well," Helton said.
CarGo doing well at top of Rox order
CLEVELAND -- In 15 games going into Wednesday night, Rockies center fielder Carlos Gonzalez hit .342 with two home runs and nine RBIs, after struggling on and off from mostly the No. 3 hole.
So is there a connection between the leadoff spot and the production?
"It doesn't make any difference," said Gonzalez, who entered Wednesday hitting .285 -- 40 points higher than he was just a month earlier. "I'm still going to face the same pitcher in any position. It's just that I'm going well.
"But this teaches you how important it is to have a good leadoff hitter because he's the one whose going to create the situations for the guys behind him. It makes it easier when the leadoff guy is always on base. It's a big responsibility."
Gonzalez led the National League in batting last year hitting mostly in the No. 3 position, and he figures he'll work his way back there at some point in his career. Since he is under a seven-year, $80 million contract with the Rockies, he thinks he will always be in an important spot in the order. After Dexter Fowler, now at Triple-A Colorado Springs, struggled with strikeouts, No. 1 was the spot where the Rockies needed him.
In the third spot, Gonzalez can be a big RBI producer. He hit 34 home runs and drove in 117 runs last year. He entered Wednesday second on the club with 43 RBIs, behind cleanup man and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. But Gonzalez said it doesn't matter to him who drives in the runs as much as having a lineup that consistently gives hitters opportunities for run-scoring at-bats.
"You don't make numbers by yourself," Gonzalez said. "If you don't have any traffic, you're not going to produce runs and you're not going to score runs if your teammates are struggling. It's about the whole team. When everybody's doing the job, that's how you produce numbers and that's how the team wins. We've got to find a way to win.
"Last year was a great year. I put up monster numbers but it was not good enough to make the playoffs. I signed the seven-year extension because I want to be a winner."
Rockies manager Jim Tracy said he had no worry about any push-back from Gonzalez when he went to him with the plan to bat at the top of the order. Gonzalez being on base at a .414 clip as a leadoff man has been a boon to Tulowitzki and Helton, and in National League games Tracy can use Jason Giambi as a pinch-hitter in the nine hole late in games with confidence that opponents won't pitch around him.
"That's the beautiful thing about this player; all he wants to do is win," Tracy said. "He'll do anything that he feels when you present it to him, and understands from the reasoning that you're giving him that it's in his best interest, as it was at the time, and maybe also as the team's best interest."
George Frazier, color analyst for Root Sports broadcasts of Rockies games and a former Major League pitcher, will play in the Old Timers Game on Sunday at Yankee Stadium, before that afternoon's Rockies-Yankees contest. Frazier was a relief pitcher for the Yankees in the 1981 World Series.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.