03/31/12 2:34 AM ET
Rockies bullpen roles coming into focus
By AJ Cassavell / Special to MLB.com
Now, with one week left until Opening Day, that bullpen is shifting into focus out of necessity. Manager Jim Tracy started doing so Friday night by naming lefty Josh Outman to the Opening Day roster.
"He could be a multiple-innings guy, but he has the versatility and the stuff that ... I wouldn't shy away the least bit from having this guy come in and pitch to a lefty," Tracy said. "He has the stuff to come in and get one of them out -- I'm talking about a pretty damn good left-handed hitter in the middle of somebody's order."
Tracy said the announcement has no effect on Matt Reynolds' status. Reynolds would be the team's third lefty with Rex Brothers and Outman on the squad.
Outman's ability to work multiple innings makes him an asset because he isn't exclusively a lefty specialist.
With the departure of Huston Street, who was traded to San Diego in the offseason, the Rockies will turn to Rafael Betancourt to close games. Brothers and righty Matt Belisle will be the two primary setup men, and after that, filling in the slots gets a little trickier.
Reynolds' niche in the bullpen would figure to be the exact spot where he was used in Thursday's game against Cleveland. With Juan Nicasio nearing the end of his start and lefty Travis Hafner coming up, Tracy went to Reynolds with two outs and two on. Reynolds forced the powerful Hafner into a lazy flyout.
"I'll be counted upon to come in and get whoever they call upon me for -- whether it's a lefty or two lefties or a righty," Reynolds said. "Whatever the situation is they're going to probably bring me in for no more than one inning, and my job is to get those outs."
Tracy blamed overuse for Reynolds' second-half struggles in 2011, saying, "He got hit a little bit, so I'll wear that."
Though Tracy didn't get into specifics of whom he'll choose for the remaining slots, he said one of the biggest focuses will be length. He felt he had to extend his one-inning guys too frequently last season. Tracy sees his bullpen sort of like a sudoku puzzle, with one misplaced piece causing havoc on the rest of the equation.
"I don't like to see specialty people pitching unnecessary innings," Tracy said. "It just makes no sense to me."
That should give more hope to the relievers who can provide length. Tracy said Tyler Chatwood is in the mix for a relief spot, after it was announced he didn't make the starting rotation, and Guillermo Moscoso was optioned to Triple-A.
That means Chatwood, Esmil Rogers, Josh Roenicke, Edgmer Escalona and Alex White figure to be the pitchers competing for the remaining spots.
"As the season goes on, we'll see guys falling into more of what their roles are going to be," said Outman, who noted even when the season begins nothing is set in stone.
The Rockies had the 23rd-ranked bullpen last season, posting a 3.91 ERA which likely was elevated by the Coors Field factor. The Colorado relievers pitched the seventh-most innings of any big league club, making Tracy's desire for length a legitimate concern.
Tracy sets remainder of starting rotation
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Much of the news surrounding the Rockies pitchers Friday revolved around 49-year-old Jamie Moyer securing his spot on the staff.
But Colorado manager Jim Tracy set the entire rotation in his pregame media session, opting to begin the season with four starters. That means highly touted prospect Drew Pomeranz will begin the season in the Minors.
As expected, Jeremy Guthrie gets the ball for the season opener Friday in Houston. He'll be followed by Moyer and righties Juan Nicasio and Jhoulys Chacin -- who will start the home opener on April 9 against San Francisco.
Because of an off day on April 10, the Rockies will hold Pomeranz out until April 15. The club optioned Pomeranz to Triple-A Colorado Springs on Friday.
Pomeranz, who was acquired last season from the Indians in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, will still throw on April 10, but the location is to be determined.
"We can get his work in on the 10th, and then he'll rejoin the club," Tracy said. "He'll leave the club on the 9th to pitch on the 10th and then after he pitches, he'll rejoin the club to do his work with us in preparation for his start."
Tracy announced his decision to go with Guthrie last week, and he praised Guthrie's strike-throwing ability again on Friday. Guthrie's efficiency combined with Nicasio's velocity made Tracy comfortable putting Moyer, a crafty lefty with questions about his durability, between them in the rotation.
As for Nicasio, Tracy had nothing but good things to say about the righty, who hit 97 mph on the radar gun Thursday. More importantly, Tracy said, has been the development of his changeup and slider.
"He has shown us better secondary stuff with some of the starts he's taken this spring," Tracy said. "Now, if that continues to play itself out, how much better can this kid get as we go along?"
Chacin, who started for Colorado on Friday, earned the No. 4 spot and a date with the Giants in the Coors Field opener.
Guillermo Moscoso, who was beaten out by Moyer for a rotation spot, was also optioned to Triple-A before the game. Tyler Chatwood and Alex White remained on the big league roster, likely in competition for a bullpen spot.
Catcher Wilkin Castillo and outfielder Andrew Brown, neither of whom are on the club's 40-man roster, were reassigned.
Cuddyer's right hand OK after hit by pitch
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A scary moment proved to be a mere blip on the Rockies spring radar when Michael Cuddyer was hit on the right hand in the sixth inning of Colorado's game against the Rangers Friday night.
Cuddyer was removed from the contest after being hit by a Yu Darvish two-seam fastball. He was diagnosed with a contusion of the ring and middle fingers, though it looked and sounded much worse.
No X-rays were needed, and Cuddyer is day-to-day. After the game, manager Jim Tracy said Cuddyer asked to be in the lineup Saturday, but Tracy opted to give him at least a day off.
"We dodged a serious bullet there," Tracy said. "He's obviously got a sore finger, but we don't have any breaks or anything like that."
Cuddyer is hitting .244 with a homer and seven RBIs this spring.
Righty Jhoulys Chacin pitched six shaky innings Friday, but for the most part he managed to work his way out of trouble. He allowed baserunners in every inning and was burned on a pair of two-out, two-run doubles -- one in the second and one in the fifth. In total, he allowed four runs on nine hits in six innings.
On Chacin, Rockies manager Jim Tracy said: "Jhoulys did a credible job. ... He was doing his best to establish his fastball, but obviously against a club like that you're going to have to break out some secondary pitches at some point in time."
Tracy has not yet decided what he will do with the open slot on his roster created by the club's decision to start the season with four starters. If he goes with a position player over a reliever, that could allow the Rockies to carry both Eric Young Jr. and Jonathan Herrera on the Opening Day roster.
Tracy was pleased with Dexter Fowler, who went 1-for-4 with a stolen base in his first game after he played in a Minor League game Thursday. Fowler, Tracy said, did a good job shortening his swing.
AJ Cassavell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.