3/12/2013 8:30 P.M. ET
Escalona struck on left cheek by ground ball
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-handed reliever Edgmer Escalona was hit in the left cheekbone with a one-hop grounder that ticked off his glove during a simulated game at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on Tuesday.
Escalona, filling in an inning while right-handed starter Jhoulys Chacin was resting during his simulated game, reached to his right for Tim Wheeler's bouncer and was struck. Escalona lay on the ground for several minutes while the Rockies' training staff and manager Walt Weiss took a long look at him. He eventually left the field under his own power and was checked for head trauma by the team's medical staff.
The Rockies announced that Escalona showed no signs of a concussion.
Out of options and needing to make the Major League roster to avoid being exposed to other clubs via waivers, Escalona, 26, has pitched well early in Spring Training. He has given up one run in five innings covering four Cactus League games.
Chatwood moves forward in battle for fifth spot
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander Tyler Chatwood put an end to an experiment with his delivery and moved forward in his bid to earn a spot on the season-opening pitching staff.
Chatwood held the D-backs to one run and four mostly soft hits in four innings of the Rockies' 4-3 victory at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. He struck out two against one walk, and eight of his outs were on balls hit along the ground.
"What I worked on in between starts kind of clicked," Chatwood said. "I was pausing before, just to maintain my balance. But I felt like I couldn't get in a rhythm, so it was more fluid motion with my leg kick."
Chatwood is officially in a group of pitchers -- along with righty Chris Volstad and lefty Christian Friedrich, provided he has enough time after missing early games with a back issue -- who are competing for the fifth spot. However, lefty Drew Pomeranz has been electric early in the spring. Manager Walt Weiss said it's too early to hand the spot to Pomeranz, but he has "done well for himself."
For now, it looks as if four of the five starters are Jhoulys Chacin, Jeff Francis, Jorge De La Rosa and Juan Nicasio, with the order to be determined, although the team also could look to make a deal to shore up its starters.
"I've started my whole career, so I'd like to start, but whatever role they see me in that would help the team most is what I'm ready to do," Chatwood said.
Tuesday's outing wasn't perfect, but the key was the way he worked through the imperfections.
"His misses were more near-misses, and they weren't up," Weiss said.
Chatwood, who has a 4.50 ERA in Cactus League play, began last season in the bullpen, but soon was sent down to build up to a starter's pitch count. Difficulty throwing strikes early in counts made being a reliever unfeasible. Chatwood said he is better prepared if that becomes his job.
"Last year, I really had no experience coming out of the 'pen," he said. "I have the attitude of going out there trying to get outs right away, rather than trying to settle into the game."
Batista willing to teach in all situations
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Miguel Batista, at 42, took a few minutes out from his bid to make the Rockies as a non-roster invitee to do some teaching Tuesday afternoon.
Batista had two outs against the D-backs in the sixth inning when he walked Kila Ka'aihue and had to face Rod Barajas. Batista made it a point to summon second-year catcher Wilin Rosario to the mound for a quick strategy lesson before facing Barajas.
"You call the pitch regardless of the situation, which is something I was talking to Rosario about," Batista said. "Regardless of the situation, we pitch to win. Look at the scoreboard. This guy is hitting .224. He looked at me. I told him, 'When a guy is hitting .224, do you want to get beat with your third or fourth pitch? No. You challenge the guy.'"
But aren't these games that don't count in the official standings? Isn't this a time to work on pitches?
Batista said you have to pick your spots for experimentation.
"You need to work on the main thing, that's winning, but you learn from your older players that if you are going to work on stuff, you work against a guy where it's not going to cost you too much," Batista said. "If it's one of those small guys, you say, 'Let me see if I can command this pitch.'
"Like, you don't want to work on your fourth pitch with guys like Miguel Cabrera. That's going to be a 500-foot mistake. See what I mean?"
Batista retired Barajas and wound up with the decision in the Rockies' 4-3 victory.
"He's been doing that since the beginning of camp. He's got a lot to offer," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "He still throws hard, cuts the ball, still blowing up bats."
CarGo returns to Rockies after Classic
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez said Tuesday that participating in the World Baseball Classic for Venezuela was strange because routines were disturbed, but he wouldn't trade the experience.
Venezuela went a disappointing 1-2 in Puerto Rico and didn't advance in pool play. A win Sunday over Spain at least kept Venezuela from having to qualify for the next Classic in 2017.
"The environment was great, but the other things are a little different -- preparation is not the same," said Gonzalez, who was back in the Rockies' clubhouse on Tuesday. "Everybody has their routine, things they like to do before games or to practice, and we didn't have a place to execute it. We only hit one time, batting practice on the field before the game.
"I feel good. I've played nine innings and we played high-intensity games. You put a little extra with that. I had fun. Obviously, we didn't play the way we wanted, but you only have three games and [if] you don't play the right way in two games, you're out. It's not like we were a bad team. Even good teams go through bad moments."
Gonzalez played all three outfield positions and went 3-for-11 with two walks, two strikeouts and an RBI. He also erased a runner on a throw to the plate.
Catcher Ramon Hernandez was 0-for-1 for Venezuela. Pitcher Jhoulys Chacin gave up four runs in 3 1/3 innings of his only Classic appearance.
• Friedrich is scheduled for a live bullpen session over the next couple of days, which would put him in position to make his Cactus League debut by the weekend. Friedrich has not pitched because of back spasms. Friedrich, the Rockies' top pick in the 2006 MLB First-Year Player Draft, made his Rockies debut last season and went 5-8 with a 6.17 ERA in 16 starts before sustaining a stress fracture in the right side of his lower back.
• Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon, who hasn't played since March 1 because of an infection in his right knee, is improving to the point where he can play catch. "I'm not sure exactly how many days away he is, but he's doing a lot better."
• First base prospect Ben Paulsen, who has fallen on the prospect scale because of a .241 average in 2011 and a .255 average in 2012 at Double-A Tulsa, has impressed Weiss with his .471 average this spring. "He'd get into some positions that would create some poor swing paths, but he's ironed that out. He's another one that can hit, and he's got big power, too," 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.