04/05/2013 4:52 PM ET
Volstad has successful return to relief work
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
DENVER -- Before Wednesday night, the last time Rockies right-hander Chris Volstad pitched in relief was his Major League debut on July 6, 2008, for the Marlins against the Rockies at Coors Field.
His return to relief pitching turned out well.
Wednesday in Milwaukee, Volstad entered with a two-run lead in the seventh inning and gave up a run on a Ryan Braun RBI double. But he finished the inning by striking out Aramis Ramirez -- a hitter who had plenty of previous success against him -- on a 3-2 curveball to end the inning. The Rockies later pulled away for a 7-3 victory.
Volstad, who was a starter for the Marlins and the Cubs before joining the Rockies this winter, relies on his sinker, and Colorado believes that pitch works better in short spurts. But the strikeout of Ramirez, who is 6-for-18 against Volstad in his career, demonstrated that he can mix pitches.
"My first one was my very first appearance in the big leagues, and I hadn't done it since then," Volstad said. "I just try to make good pitches and treat it like any other inning."
Nicasio, Escalona all smiles day after scuffle
DENVER -- Rockies pitchers Juan Nicasio and Edgmer Escalona treated fans to a scuffle during Thursday's public workout at Coors Field, but they were smiling and hugging again Friday before the home opener.
"It's no big deal because Escalona is my best friend," Nicasio said. "It was a bad day. Something happened."
Escalona said, "It's like a brother, family. That's what happens all the time."
In fact, the two rode to Coors Field together for Friday's game.
"We do everything together," Escalona said. "It happened because we're together too much. Sometimes we've got to fight."
Less foul ground could benefit Rockies catchers
DENVER -- A remodeling and construction project at Coors Field reduced the distance from home plate to the backstop by six feet.
The immediate thought would be the loss of foul ground would assist hitters -- more pops behind the plate will land in the stands -- as if they need more help at Coors Field. However, catcher Yorvit Torrealba said he sees it helping the defense more than the offense.
Torrealba didn't notice the reduction when he first stepped out for batting practice, but once he took a good look he said he and Wilin Rosario will see it as a deterrent for runners who normally would be poised to dash in from third as soon as a pitch hits the dirt.
"I like it better this way," Torrealba said. "Most likely, you're going to let one ball go by you out of the many, many pitches you receive in a game. Now, what are the odds you're going to get a fly ball out as a catcher? One every however many games? It's an advantage for the catchers, and for us as a team.
"If Wilin or I try to block a ball and it gets by, we've got the wall that's concrete and brick, too, so it'll bounce to us. The runners will probably stop, because they know now the ball is probably going to bounce back to the catcher."
Brignac already contributing to Rockies
DENVER -- Infielder Reid Brignac was preparing for a trip to Coors Field with the Rays in 2009 when he was informed he was being sent to Triple-A. So Brignac had never even been in Denver until the Rockies arrived after their season-opening three-game series in Milwaukee. But he's already contributed.
Brignac, 27, was acquired from the Rays during Spring Training for a player to be named and went 1-for-1 off the bench on Tuesday and 2-for-4 with an RBI double in his first start in Wednesday's 7-3 victory.
A left-handed-hitting bench and utility player for most of his time with the Rays, Brignac was attractive to the Rockies because of his ability to play shortstop when the team spells Troy Tulowitzki. It appears most of his starts will be at third base to spell right-handed-hitting Chris Nelson.
Brignac is embracing his role off the bench, even though his approach will be slightly different from in the past with the Rays.
"I talked to Dante [Bichette, the Rockies' hitting coach] and kind of picked his brain about coming off the bench, pinch-hitting," Brignac said. "We agreed how we felt about being aggressive. If you get a good pitch early in the count, be ready for it and be ready to attack that pitch. Let it fly. You get one at-bat, you may only get one or two pitches.
"I had a different role with the Rays. They wanted me to see more pitches and work counts. Here they're giving me a little more freedom to swing at pitches I feel are good pitches. I've done well with my pitch selection. When I swung at those pitches, they were pitches I should have been swinging at."
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.