02/25/2013 7:47 PM ET
New team suits former first-rounder Schmidt
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Left-hander Nick Schmidt has a healthy arm and a bright outlook with the Rockies -- something he never had while with the Padres.
San Diego selected Schmidt 23rd overall out of the University of Arkansas in the First-Year Player Draft. But Schmidt missed the entire 2008 season because of Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow, and never gained full health while with the Padres.
The Rockies acquired him after the 2011 season for closer Huston Street. Last season, Schmidt, 28, went a combined 12-6 with Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Colorado Springs, pitched a career-high 127 total innings, and could make himself a pitching option for the Rox.
"With the Padres, I was always known as being hurt, with two surgeries," Schmidt said. "But here, last year was my first year to pitch the full season without being hurt. It's been a blessing. It's a new confidence, a new team, a new perspective. It's been awesome."
Schmidt struck out three in two innings of the Rockies' intrasquad game Friday. He has yet to appear in a Cactus League game and is not considered a prime candidate to make the team out of Spring Training, but nonetheless will have a chance to impress his new team.
He's in a much better place than he was in 2011, when he came close to retirement.
"In the spring of 2011, I hurt my shoulder, came off the field and had to get surgery again," Schmidt said. "I told the Padres I was just going to retire. I went and had the surgery and it was supposed to be a labrum and I would be out the full year. Well, they went in and it was nothing, just a cleanup surgery. The doctor said, 'You are going to be good in six weeks to start throwing again.' I said, 'Well, I'll try.' Since then it's been awesome.
"I'm living for Christ now. It really turned my life around, put things into perspective about how important it is to help others around you, not just focus on yourself. Build others up and help others.
"My wife [Jill] volunteers at a women's clinic, pregnancy crisis center, and I got involved with that with her. We've done a lot of little things, nothing to boast about me. It's just helping."
Even if the new health and a new attitude doesn't get him to the Majors, Schmidt is happier and more content.
"I had that conversation with them when all that was going down," he said. "I told them, 'Look, this isn't the way I planned it. There's stuff you can't control.' Through that they told me, 'We don't have any regrets.' That made me feel a lot better. There is when I was going though being hurt and not doing anything. Well, it is what it is. It's definitely who I am today, made me stronger. I'm thankful for it. I wouldn't wish it upon anybody, but it definitely made me a stronger person. "Before, my focus was, 'How can I throw where my arm doesn't hurt?' Now I can focus on putting the ball where it needs to be and make those adjustments.
"If it happens, it happens. If not, I'm having fun, enjoying it."
Weiss likes Young-Fowler speed atop lineup
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies manager Walt Weiss sent out an early spring lineup during Monday's 9-1 win over the Rangers that might be a good changeup during the regular season -- Eric Young Jr. leading off and Dexter Fowler batting second.
Young, the team's fastest player and best stolen-base threat, went 1-for-2 with a walk and scored both his times on base. Fowler, the usual leadoff man, went 1-for-3, with the hit being a triple to center field to drive in Young from first. Fowler is better at putting his speed to use with the ball in play on hits to the gap, as well as defensively.
The idea of using the Young-Fowler combo is one of the reasons Weiss wants to increase the number of positions Young plays. Previous manager Jim Tracy shifted Young from second base to the outfield. Young started in left field Monday, as Carlos Gonzalez rested, and he still will play all three outfield spots, but Weiss has had him rekindle his skills at second and will try him at third.
"It's fun to watch with those two guys at the top of the order, and it really puts you in a situation where the opposing team is reacting to what we're doing," Weiss said.
Weiss has said he believes the team will hit for power, but he also wants to use speed more effectively. The speedy first two hitters could be a boon to the team's efforts on the road, where the Rockies traditionally struggle because pitches are more effective away from the mile-high altitude.
"There are times on the road where it seems that would be a nice formula, having that type of speed in the lineup," Weiss said. "That speed plays everywhere, but particularly on the road, where we have to manufacture runs."
Rosario scratched with lower back tightness
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Catcher Wilin Rosario suffered lower back tightness and was pulled from the lineup for Monday's game against the Rangers, but the issue is not considered serious.
Rosario, who hit 28 home runs as a rookie last season, took batting practice at Salt River Fields at Taking Stick after informing the Rockies of the back problem.
Veteran Yorvit Torrealba, a non-roster invitee, took Rosario's place at catcher.
Pomeranz not getting caught up in spring stats
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The three hits, two runs and two walks that Rockies left-hander Drew Pomeranz issued in two innings during Saturday's Spring Training opener against the D-backs were of less concern to him than anyone paying keen attention to the stat line.
Pomeranz, 24, who went 2-9 with a 4.93 ERA last season as a rookie, is vying for the fifth spot in the rotation, but he's refusing to limit his vision to merely protecting his numbers in an effort to make the team.
"Spring Training, you're supposed to get ready for the season, so I'm out there working on things I'm not so good at, instead of stuff I'm already good at," Pomeranz said. "I already know what I can do, what my bread and butter is. The next step for me is to be better at the things that I struggled at last year."
Pomeranz said he toyed with pitch sequences. Eventually, he plans to devise a strategy that will make him less predictable.
"I don't want to pitch everyone the same way, like I did at times last year," Pomeranz said. "I was pretty happy with what I did. I had two walks, but those were not balls by much -- they were close calls. That's what this is for.
"It's not to say I'm not taking it seriously. I'm taking it more seriously, making an effort to get better. That's something I didn't realize my first two Spring Trainings. It's a step in a better direction than going out there and getting everybody out with my strengths right now. I'm trying to make the team and make the rotation, obviously, but I'm not going to do that if I can't do things I couldn't do last year."
• Lefty Danny Rosenbaum, the Rockies' Rule 5 Draft pick, pitched around a single and a one-out balk in the third inning and a leadoff walk in the fifth, but finished with two scoreless innings in Colorado's 9-1 win Monday. He must stay on the Major League roster all season or be offered back to the Nationals for $50,000.
• Righty Manny Corpas, a non-roster invitee, gave up a sixth-inning run on two hits, but had some misfortune. The Rangers' Lenoys Martin led off the inning with a single. Craig Gentry hit a one-hopper back to the mound that ticked off Corpas' glove and bounced into the outfield, negating a possible double play. The speedy Gentry ended up with a double, and Martin scored on Ian Kinsler's sacrifice fly.
• First baseman Todd Helton, 39 and coming off right hip surgery, is being held out of the early spring games, but he is planning on 25-30 at-bats before Cactus League play ends. Part of it is to keep his defensive skills sharp. "There are only so many ground balls you can take without getting to see the ball off the bat, live," Helton said. "But I'm getting enough work right now. I'm in no hurry. I know it's a long season, and my goal is to play in the season."
• Rockies pitching coach Jim Wright said lefty Jorge De La Rosa, who will pitch Tuesday against the Cubs, appears fully recovered from the 2011 Tommy John surgery that took the rest of that season and most of last season to heal. Wright said De La Rosa -- a 29-game winner from 2008 until the injury in May 2011 -- is not hesitating to throw his breaking stuff in bullpen and live batting-practice sessions. "He's still got to get consistent with the slider, but the curveball is a pitch he wanted to get back in there," Wright said. "It's a weapon for him, an early-strike pitch. He's working on the rotation, getting it down in the zone. So far he's done that."
• Manager Walt Weiss realizes his moves are predetermined in these early Spring Training games, but he's trying to think through games as if they're regular-season games that require strategy. Bench coach Tom Runnells is talking him through the possible strategies. "Three games into Spring Training, I asked him if he's tired from me leaning on him," Weiss said.
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.