3/1/2013 7:31 P.M. ET
Rockies taking note of Chacin's big toe
By Owen Perkins / Special to MLB.com
SCOTSDALE, Ariz. -- Colorado's path to improvement is inextricably linked to improved health up and down its roster, but nowhere is it more important than in a pitching staff decimated by injuries in 2012. So when Jhoulys Chacin was bothered by a contusion to his left big toe during his first outing Tuesday against the Cubs, the Rockies took careful note.
Chacin originally suffered the contusion in the weight room, and was first bothered by it during fielding drills four days before his first appearance. He pitched so well Tuesday, throwing two perfect innings, that optimism is high regarding his arm. But with Chacin leaving after Saturday's scheduled start to pitch for Team Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, concern is giving optimism a run for its money.
"My priority is to keep that arm in shape right now, no matter what," said Rockies head athletic trainer Keith Dugger. "It's a wait-and-see type of thing. His bullpen was very good. His afterwards conditioning wasn't very good. It's only certain movements that hurt. He can't run up on his toes if he's going to cover the bag."
Chacin downplayed any concerns, maintaining confidence that he'll stay on track with the Rockies and be ready to compete in the World Baseball Classic.
"After I threw my bullpen, it was a little bit sore after, but I think it will be fine," Chacin said. "I don't think it's going to be a big deal."
CarGo hitting for power to all fields
SCOTSDALE, Ariz. -- Two days before his departure for the World Baseball Classic, Carlos Gonzalez is showing "coast-to-coast" power, as manager Walt Weiss put it, hitting a deep double down the left-field line in his first at-bat Friday to score two runs, then launching a solo shot beyond the right-field fence to help the Rockies secure a 5-2 win.
"That's when you become a good hitter, when you use the whole field and you use it for power," Gonzalez said. "Today was a good day. Even when I struck out in my first at-bat, I was hitting the ball good. It was lefty-lefty."
There was no argument from Weiss, who already has Gonzalez in Saturday's lineup, his last day to play with the Rockies before joining Team Venezuela, potentially through the March 19 championship game in San Francisco.
"Home runs are always good," Weiss said.
Gonzalez is hitting .333 in four Cactus League games, with a .750 slugging percentage. Three of his four hits have gone for extra bases.
"I'm seeing the ball well," Gonzalez said. "Trying to recognize [pitches], because it's been a while since seeing pitches. So far it's been good. I feel healthy and strong. When I feel like that I can continue to work hard."
Gonzalez' influence on the team has never been stronger, and he shows no signs of tempering his team-first spirit, even when it comes at the cost of his own performance.
"As a player it's always tough when things are going bad," Gonzalez said, referring to last year's rough season for the Rockies. "Part of the reason is because you worry so much about your team. You put a lot of pressure on yourself, and you feel like you have to do more to make your team better to win ball games.
"It's about every single guy, not about one guy. One guy's not going to make the team better. That's when you need your teammates to do a great job. Obviously the young guys [on the Rockies roster] in the second half, they did a great job. But our team was just bad. We didn't win ball games. At the end of the day, that's what you want to do. I feel like I have a lot of responsibility on this team to do well and play well for everybody."
Versatile Young sparkling in return to infield
SCOTSDALE, Ariz. -- The way Eric Young's spring is going, it would take a team of "Argo-esque" operatives to extricate him from the Rockies roster when they head north in April. EY has offered Walt Weiss everything a manager could ask for, all at warp speed.
He's hitting .300, and has played left, center, and second base, with Weiss eager to consider him as an option at third as well. He creates runs out of nothing, as he did Friday against the Brewers, bunting for a single and advancing a runner to third, then scoring from first on a Carlos Gonzalez double for what proved to be the winning run.
The challenge for Young is supposed to be reintroducing himself to the infield, but in his first spring start at second base, he helped turn a 5-4-3 triple play to avoid a potentially big inning in what turned out to be a one-run game.
"EY got the throw off, off-balance," Weiss said of Young. "Very, very nice turn by EY."
Young takes it in stride, focusing on his role as a pivot man without getting caught up in counting outs around the bases.
"It was a tough turn," Young said. "I knew the runner [from first] was bearing in, because [third baseman Nolan Arenado] had to run to third, touch third, and then come across. But I just treated it like a regular double play. Catch it and make the turn. It's a cool play to be a part of."
It's been a couple years since Young played at third, but he is all about the preparation, and he's been taking grounders there every day for a year. That level of preparation helped him maintain his game at second, where he began his career before shifting to the outfield to find more opportunities to crack Colorado's lineup.
"I never lost confidence at second base," Young explained. "If I see my name there in the lineup, go play. If not, go play wherever my name is. This year, it's just any way I can get out there on the field. At this point I want the at-bat, no matter what position."
Before 2012, his career highlight may have been leading the Rockies in steals the previous year despite playing less than half the season. But after three seasons with scattered call-ups and a consistent average in the .240s, Young broke through in 2012, hitting .316 in 98 games -- all as an outfielder -- before an intercostal strain cut his season short.
Young hits the ground running in 2013, determined to maximize his chances and become a manager's best friend.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.