03/07/12 7:40 PM EST
Start to Moyer's comeback a success
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
Moyer isn't the first pitcher to return from Tommy John elbow ligament transfer surgery, but doing it at age 49 is unique. Moyer's first inning was spotless. He then gave up a leadoff single to Nate Schierholtz but forced a Brandon Crawford grounder, struck out Chris Stewart and ended the inning by coaxing a grounder from Angel Pagan.
"I thought a little about it beforehand but I really tried not to put too much thought into it because I hadn't pitched yet," said Moyer, who worked as a commentator for ESPN when he wasn't rehabbing the injury. "Tonight I'll be able to reflect on it a little bit. But the way I look at it, tomorrow's another work day. I need to continue to push, and I believe I have a long way to go yet."
The comeback won't be complete until Moyer, who signed a Minor League contract with the club over the winter, appears in the regular season. Moyer approached Wednesday with something close to regular-season intensity, using an 82 mph fastball with his curve and a changeup. The only pitch he withheld was his cut fastball. The mix baffles hitters, even though it lacks power.
But Moyer's mind is powerful.
"Today was all about trying to be effective in and out of the strike zone," Moyer said. "Establish that I'm going to throw strikes, more so to myself than the hitter. It establishes itself to the hitter, but I need to create that mindset and actually visualize it.
"I'm a very visual kind of pitcher. I try to see that ball cross the plate, and how the hitters are reacting to the pitches. That's how I learn and it tells me where I am."
Rockies manager Jim Tracy saw an instant replay of the form Moyer has used to earn 267 wins to lead active pitchers.
"Same Jamie Moyer I've seen in the past -- he's just using a tiny bit of the plate, and you can tell by the sequences he's throwing one pitch and already thinking about the next pitch," Tracy said. "He's one pitch ahead, and that's a big part of his success."
Guthrie finds strike zone in spring outing
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Rockies plan to carry several young pitchers but want to have veteran leaders to demonstrate pitch efficiency. Right-hander Jeremy Guthrie provided it for three innings when he started Wednesday's 8-6 loss to the Giants.
Guthrie, obtained from the Orioles in a Feb. 6 trade, had imperfect command -- he yielded two runs and seven hits -- but he threw 22 of his 31 pitches for strikes.
"You get a pretty good idea as to why this guy can stay out there and throw over 200 innings for three years in a row," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.
Guthrie, who turns 33 on April 8, said he expects to hit his spots at the bottom of the strike zone with more frequency as the regular season nears.
"You always want to be in the zone, then try to get more efficient once you're in there," Guthrie said.
Outfielder Charlie Blackmon, who had some strong performances during a callup last season only to have his year end when he fractured his right foot, led off Wednesday's game with a home run off Giants starter Tim Lincecum and finished 2-for-3.
Blackmon hit .255 with one homer and eight RBIs in 27 games before incurring the injury while running the bases at Atlanta on July 7.
Non-roster catcher Wil Nieves, who threw out two runners in his first spring outing, picked the Giants' Pablo Sandoval off second in the first inning Wednesday and threw out Ryan Theriot on a steal attempt of second base in the second inning.
Tracy said it's too early to speculate how Nieves fits into the team's season-opening catching plans behind veteran starter Ramon Hernandez. The Rockies have prospect Wilin Rosario, but could send him to Triple-A to complete his defensive education. Tracy said versatile Jordan Pacheco, who will play first base, third base and some second base, is catching better than at any point last year. Pacheco also has value as a pinch-hitter.
Nieves, 34, has played in 282 Major League games since 2002 and is considered a strong defender. Tracy said the Rockies have given him a blueprint for how he can increase his value offensively. Nieves singled and scored Wednesday.
Poor situational hitting sank the Rockies last season and, for that matter, was a problem when they contended but fell short of the playoffs in 2010. Tracy has been citing good situational at-bats after each Cactus League game. His favorites Wednesday were the singles by Troy Tulowitzki and Todd Helton and a triple by Michael Cuddyer, all with two outs in the first against Lincecum, and Carlos Gonzalez's two-out RBI single in the second.
It was a difficult day for right-hander Esmil Rogers, who struggled with consistency all last season and is trying to make this year's staff as either a starter, a reliever or a swingman. Rogers gave up three runs on three hits and four walks in the seventh inning Wednesday.
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.