04/19/2013 10:20 PM ET
Baylor goes into Colorado Sports Hall of Fame
By Owen Perkins / Special to MLB.com
DENVER -- The D-backs pulled out their extra-innings victory over the Yankees without the presence of hitting coach Don Baylor on Thursday night. Baylor took the day off for his induction ceremony into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.
"It was surreal, really," Baylor said of the recognition he earned for managing the Rockies over their first six seasons. "It was kind of like, 'I don't believe they're doing this.' To do it as a manager, you can't do it without good players and coaches that support you, good or bad, on everything that I decide to do as a manager. They might agree with you and sometimes they might not. Guys have to play good for you. They don't put bad coaches in."
Before Baylor's Rockies even took the field, he gave the expansion club some legitimacy, giving big league baseball a foothold behind the most recognizable face in the franchise. Baylor's first managerial gig followed a 19-year career that started with the Orioles and took him to the A's, Angels, Yankees, Red Sox, and Twins. He was a three-time American League Silver Slugger and the American League Most Valuable Player in 1979.
Baylor entered the Hall along with former Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote, Broncos safety Steve Atwater and punter Don Cockroft, big league pitcher Stan Williams, and golfer Steve Jones, the last three being native Coloradans. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin, another native, were recognized as the 2012 Athletes of the Year, in the professional and amateur categories.
"There are some guys that are in it that are Colorado guys that were born here," Baylor said. "[Major League Baseball Hall of Famer] Goose Gossage, I saw him last night. I went in with Adam Foote, I know him. [NHL Hall-of-Famer] Joe Sakic has been in for a while. Stan Williams was a big league pitcher. Peyton Manning stopped by last night, he was there."
Baylor's not quick to miss a day of work, but the event was obviously important to him, as evidenced by the guests he brought to Denver to help him celebrate the honor.
"It was 900 people, a little gathering," Baylor said. "I had my high school baseball coach there. My junior high, high school, college roommate, he was there. We started out in the seventh grade together. My son was there, and my wife. So it was a good deal, kind of reflecting back to 1992-93."
After two years posting a .414 and .455 winning percentage, Baylor led the Rockies to the postseason in 1995, the quickest a franchise had ever made the playoffs from inception. He won Manager of the Year and put up two more 83-win seasons, having left a lasting legacy in the town he helped transform into a big league city.
The Rockies acknowledged Baylor's induction on the field before Friday's game, presenting him with a team jersey. Baylor is already in the Angels Hall of Fame, but the Rockies have yet to open one of their own. In a season-long celebration of their 20-year anniversary, however, the seeds for a Rockies Hall of Fame are taking root.
"After 20 years, they'll get around to it one of these times," Baylor said. "I asked them if they have Eric Young's first home run ball [from the first at-bat in the first home game]. They don't have that. EY tried to get it, but it went into the stands.
D-backs giving extra effort early in season
DENVER -- The D-backs have a triple-play perfecto going, establishing undefeated records this season in three overlapping categories.
Arizona is 5-0 in series finales, 4-0 on getaway days, and 3-0 in extra innings. So far, all three extra-inning games have come on getaway day.
"We've developed a mentality to hang in there," manager Kirk Gibson said on Friday before the series opener against the Rockies.
The D-backs won, 10-9, in 16 innings in St. Louis on April 3 to win the rubber match against the Cardinals, won, 8-7, in the 11th in Milwaukee to sweep the Brewers and won, 9-6, in the 12th against the Yankees on Thursday night to avoid being swept.
"It's what it is," Gibson said of his club's resilience. "You don't have time to be disappointed. You have to regroup immediately, play the game the right way, and get back on offense and try to win the game. We've done a good job of it."
Having all their extra-innings games fall on getaway days has wreaked havoc on their travel schedule, putting them in Colorado in the wee hours of the morning on Friday in a week that saw the Rockies postpone two games due to snow and record cold temperatures.
"It's not an issue," Gibson said. "It's cold, we got in late, we didn't get the sleep we want, it's not an issue. It's part of the deal. We understand that going in. It's part of what we prepare for.
"The most important thing for us is we're playing a very, very good Colorado Rockies team, and we have to focus on what they do and try to stop big innings. The thing we really didn't do well in the Yankees series was our situational hitting. We left a lot of guys out there when we had a chance to tack on. The way the Rockies have been scoring, if we do that, we're going to have a tough time, so we'll have to execute that better."
Injuries testing D-backs' depth early
DENVER -- Arizona has seen its bench and organizational depth tested in the first few weeks of the season, with a pair of .300 hitters landing on the disabled list and two other starters opening the season on the DL.
The D-backs have responded with a 9-6 record, trailing Colorado by a pair as they opened a three-game set in Coors Field.
"It's how we prepare," manager Kirk Gibson said. "It starts in Spring Training. You try and get some of your depth guys acclimated in case they're called on. Unfortunately, we've had to call on quite a few of them this early in this young season."
Shortstop Willie Bloomquist and outfielder Adam Eaton started the season on the DL, and outfielder Jason Kubel and second baseman Aaron Hill hit the DL during the season with a strained left quad and broken left hand, respectively.
Cody Ross filled Kubel's spot on the roster and is hitting .389 (7-for-18), while Didi Gregorious took Hill's spot and went 2-for-5 with a homer on the first pitch he saw in his big league debut Thursday night.
"They feel like they belong," Gibson said of the acclimation process paying off. "They understand our philosophy and how we want to attack our opponent, things we want to do and things we don't want to do. They fit right in. All you can try and do is hang on.
"It's an opportunity for them to give something back to their teammates. The older guys give a lot to them when they come up, and we're a team. We don't care who's here. We'll field 25 guys a night and be prepared. We'll feel confident about what the outcomes going to be."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.