03/09/2013 12:59 AM ET
Culberson making most of opportunity with Rockies
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A year later and with a different team, Rockies infielder Charlie Culberson is getting a chance in Spring Training.
Last year, Culberson suffered a broken left index finger in a weight-training mishap just before going to camp with the Giants -- who selected him as a supplemental first-round pick in the 2007 MLB First-Year Player Draft. He didn't play all spring and spent most of the year at Triple-A Fresno, although he did get into eight games with the Giants. Ultimately, Culberson was traded to the Rockies for second baseman Marco Scutaro, who would earn National League Championship Series MVP honors and help the Giants win the World Series.
For Culberson, 23, the final five weeks of the season turned out to be the audition he didn't get in Spring Training. Culberson hit .336 in 30 games with Triple-A Colorado Springs, where Stu Cole was manager and Rene Lachemann was on the coaching staff. Now Cole is coaching third base and Lachemann is coaching first base on new Rockies manager Walt Weiss' staff.
"They know me -- playing against them a few series here and there, and then playing for them the last five weeks, that helped me out coming into Spring Training," Culberson said. "It would have been nice to have been called up last year, but things didn't work out the way I wanted them to. That's just how it goes."
The Rockies are taking a long look at Culberson this spring. With expected regulars gradually working into playing shape, he has seen extensive duty at second base and third base. Going into Friday night against the Royals, he was 2-for-11, with the hits being a home run and a triple. Club officials like his defense, say there is some power in his bat and that he runs well.
After being crowded out by veteran infielders throughout his time with the Giants, Culberson finds another packed situation in the Rockies' infield. The plan is for Josh Rutledge to start at second base and Troy Tulowitzki is the star shortstop, which means Culberson is competing for backup slots with Reid Brignac, who has proven himself defensively at short in the Majors, DJ LeMahieu and Jonathan Herrera.
Culberson was drafted as a shortstop and spent a year at third base but has been primarily a second baseman the past three years. However, he feels comfortable moving around the diamond.
"I'm here to play, and the Rockies are giving me a chance," Culberson said. "I can't ask for much more."
De La Rosa pleased with outing on rainy day
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa sat in his Scottsdale home watching the nasty weather on Friday, wondering if he'd have a chance to display his revamped mechanics that night.
But after a long stretch recently where nothing seemed to work out, things went De La Rosa's way. The rain took a break long enough for De La Rosa to throw three solid innings against the Royals in a game that was called after four, with the Rockies leading, 3-1. De La Rosa struck out two and gave up a run on one hit. He threw strikes on 28 of his 50 pitches.
After two rough starts in which he gave up three runs, four hits and four walks in 3 2/3 innings, the decent outing was welcome even though it won't count officially. De La Rosa underwent Tommy John surgery on his left elbow in 2011 and made just three starts at the end of last season (0-2, 9.28 ERA). Before the injury, he had emerged as one of the Rockies' most effective starters.
"I felt much better with my mechanics, more comfortable," De La Rosa said. "Today I knew what I was doing on the mound."
De La Rosa said he was not worried about the two rough starts this spring, even though he showed few signs of the form he used to build a 39-28 record in a Rockies uniform -- accounting for a .582 winning percentage that's the highest in Rockies history for a pitcher with at least 50 starts.
Before this start, De La Rosa watched videos of himself from his best days on the mound, and talked with pitching coach Jim Wright and special instructor Pedro Astacio before setting out to correct the delivery issues -- moving too fast, flying open with his front arm and not keeping his fingers on top of the ball, especially on the slider.
De La Rosa was happy to display it all in the abbreviated game.
"I'm glad I got my work in," De La Rosa said. "I thought we weren't going to get it in, because it was raining so hard and the wind was bad. I'm glad we played."
The Rockies scored their runs in three innings against Jeremy Guthrie, who began last season with the Rockies before being traded to the Royals.
Guthrie, who threw 28 strikes in 52 pitches, was satisfied with his second start despite giving up the three runs.
"I look at the pitches and today they felt much crisper than last time," Guthrie said.
Up next: Rockies right-hander Juan Nicasio, who missed much of last season with a left knee injury and has been struggling to find consistency this spring, will start against the Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium at 1:05 p.m.
Manufactured runs a welcome sight for Weiss
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Rockies' two-run third inning in their rain-shortened game against the Royals was an example of what the club hopes accomplish in road games -- where they can't take advantage of hitter-friendly Coors Field.
Reid Brignac opened the inning with a single. Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie hit Eric Young Jr. with a pitch, then didn't throw to third in time when Dexter Fowler bunted. From there Todd Helton knocked a sacrifice fly to center and Michael Cuddyer grounded to third to drive in the second run.
"We got some guys in motion on the bases, and Todd did his typical thing. With runners in scoring position we had some productive outs to score runs," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "It would be a nice formula on the road."
• Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon, who has been out for more than a week because of an infection in his right knee, is improving and could be back in several days.
• Right-hander Tyler Chatwood threw an uneventful inning before the rain ended Friday night's game against the Royals, then threw a side session to reach his allotted number of pitches. Chatwood is a candidate for the starting rotation as well as a middle-relief role.
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.