2/16/2013 7:15 P.M. ET
Brignac adds to Rockies reserve infield depth
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The freshness of a new start outweighs any pressure infielder Reid Brignac could feel upon joining the Rockies, who acquired him from the Rays on Thursday for cash and a player to be named.
Brignac, 27, achieved touted prospect status with the Rays in 2006, when he hit .326 in Class A and finished the year with a .300 average in a Double-A trial. He would eventually make the Majors and have a stint as the starting shortstop, but after he hit .227 for the Rays from 2008-12, the club decided to designate him for assignment. Several clubs expressed interest before the Rockies acquired him.
Brignac will compete for an Opening Day roster spot and playing time. The Rockies already have DJ LeMahieu, who finished strong last season and ended with a solid .297 batting average in 81 Major league games, Jonathan Herrera, who battled injuries last year, and Ryan Wheeler, who came from the D-backs in a winter trade, in the backup infielder mix.
Two factors work in Brignac's favor. He has shown the ability to play shortstop in the big leagues for an extended period -- important to a club that wants to be protected if star Troy Tulowitzki is injured -- and he is out of Minor League options. Each of his competitors can be sent to the Minors without having to be exposed to other clubs via waivers.
Weiss hopes to bring clarity to first team meeting
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In the few days that pitchers have been working out at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, new Rockies manager Walt Weiss has concentrated on a few simple instructions and objectives. His next task will be to establish what he calls "clarity" on Sunday morning, during his first official meeting in front of the full squad.
Weiss admitted that he is putting intellectual and emotional energy into his talk. Weiss has been meeting individually with pitchers, but beyond chance meetings in the hallways or chatter around the batting cage, he has barely met many members of his team.
"I've been going over it for some time now," Weiss said. "There are some things I need to say, but at the same time you can't sit up there and talk, and talk, and talk. It gets a little bit diluted.
"I want to make sure the message is clear and they understand it. I don't think they expect me to stand up there and talk a whole lot, anyway."
Weiss has established with pitchers that groundballs are a must, and each must find his best way to force hitters to put the ball on the ground. Using athletic ability decisively -- yes, they'll have to be smart, but anything beats being tentative -- will be a theme dear to the club.
Of course, much went wrong in many areas last year as the Rockies went 64-98 -- the worst record in their history -- under Jim Tracy, who resigned in October. But to pound the players, many of whom experienced the year, on every bullet point would risk being too focused on the past, and Weiss and coaches have said too much specific instruction can be confusing. Weiss said the staff spent the winter whittling the priorities.
"We spent a lot of time together as a staff," Weiss said. "Everybody was in Nashville at the Winter Meetings. We talked about a lot of stuff, and got it all on the table there. We got to get together again in Denver a few weeks ago, and that was when we really fine-tuned some of the things we thought were really important to the club."
Weiss worked for the club as a special front-office assistant from 2002-08 before leaving for time with his family, so he worked with several current Rockies during their Minor League years. He lived in the Denver area and followed the club, but spent last year as head coach at Regis Jesuit High School, had no idea the Rockies job would open, and didn't look at the games from a manager's perspective.
To build credibility with the players, Weiss watched video, talked to trusted club personnel and studied key statistics. He admitted he had a better feel for position players at first, and had to play catch-up with the pitchers. Left-handed setup man Rex Brothers, however, was impressed with the degree of homework Weiss had done on him.
"He knew everything as far as what I needed to do, what I had done," Brothers said. "I felt very comfortable talking to him. He knew what I needed to do to improve.
"We talked that you are going to see a totally different me as far as consistency level, yet I'll still be competing. Most of the time, you'll know what you're going to get."
Helton gets in first full spring workout with teammates
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Saturday's official report date for Rockies position players came and went -- nearly without fanfare, simply because it's rarely if ever an issue. Some players experienced visa problems a few years back, but the club has had a culture of early reporting.
However, Saturday was the first extended appearance in the clubhouse of veteran first baseman Todd Helton. Actually, Helton has been in town for about a week, but he had made himself scarce around the complex. His lack of presence prevented his recent arrest and charges of driving under the influence and careless driving from distracting his teammates.
But Helton, who underwent left hip surgery to repair a torn labrum in August and has set a goal of being fully ready on Opening Day, exercised and took batting practice with his teammates on Saturday.
The club has said Helton, 39, who has played 16 seasons with the Rockies and is in the final year of his contract, will address the issue with the media one time, on Sunday, the day of the first full-squad workout. New manager Walt Weiss expects that the issue will not be a clubhouse distraction.
"It's good to see him out there, and he's been everything you would expect," Weiss said. "He's taking it head-on. He's dealing with it. We'll turn the page and get ready for the season."
Helton was arrested in Thornton, Colo., early on Feb. 6, and has a May 20 court date.
Infielder Reid Brignac, acquired in a trade with the Rays on Thursday, arrived Saturday. Most of the players had been working at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick all week, while the pitchers and catchers were in official Spring Training mode.
After trying 2012, Bettis trying to live in the moment
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis went into camp last year being touted as a pitcher who, just in his third pro season, had a shot at making it to the Majors. He was the first player from the 2010 Draft class to appear in Major League camp, but a shoulder injury after camp began -- which begat a long and halting rehab -- cost him the entire year.
A second-round pick out of Texas Tech, Bettis is 18-6 with a 2.70 ERA in 40 Minor League games, all but one of them starts at the Short-Season and Class A levels. The talk last year was that he had a shot to be in the Majors before season's end, possibly as a late-inning reliever.
Bettis tried to work his way back to the mound, but a setback in August scuttled his season. Bettis, who turns 24 on April 26, arrived in camp without much buzz, which is fine with him.
"I'm so blessed for the opportunity again, but I want to show everyone I'm healthy again and see where that takes me," Bettis said. "It's definitely much more day-by-day. You have to take it that way. If you look at the pressure of, 'I'm really going to try hard to make the team,' then a lot of things can get out of hand, out of control. Try to take what's in the moment."
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.