2/21/2014 3:05 P.M. ET
Former Rockies star Castilla remains involved in game
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies special front office assistant Vinny Castilla, one of the team's earliest stars, was still smiling and still humble after being inducted into the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame on Feb. 8 in the Dominican Republic.
"That was an honor and a privilege to be around those great Latin American players," Castilla said. "To share that with them was an unbelievable experience for me and my family. It's a great thing they're doing over there. This year was the fifth year they've done that. To be part of that was unbelievable."
Castilla's 1,884 hits and 320 home runs are the most all-time by a Mexican-born player in the Majors. He hit 30 or more home runs in six of his 16 seasons.
To continue spending time with his family, Castilla works with players in Spring Training and when the team is at home. He managed the Mexican team during the 2009 World Baseball Classic and has extensive baseball knowledge. He could be a candidate for full-time coaching, or possibly managing, if he so chooses.
"Let's see what the years bring and what I want to do," Castilla said. "I don't know if I want to go full-time. I want to be involved in the game, definitely. If it happens, it happens, but I enjoy what I'm doing."
Rule 5 pick Kahnle aims to impress in camp
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Rockies selected Tommy Kahnle from the Yankees in this winter's Rule 5 Draft because of the velocity he's capable of bringing with his fastball. The reason he was available, however, was the Yankees could not wait for his control to match his power.
Early in bullpen sessions as the pitchers and catchers work through the first week of preparations, Kahnle, 24, admitted being caught between the extremes.
"The first couple of bullpens, they've noticed that I've been trying to nitpick on the corners, and that's not how I really am," Kahnle said. "I've been trying to do too much. So I take a step back and do what I've been doing -- going after the zone."
Kahnle spent the last two seasons at Double-A Trenton, and last year went 1-3 with a 2.85 ERA and 15 saves in 46 appearances. He struck out 74 in 60 innings, but also walked 45, none intentionally. If he impresses enough in camp, he would most likely be used in middle relief.
Under Rule 5, he must make the 25-man Major League roster and not be optioned to the Minors or designated for assignment. If the Rockies deem him not good enough to make the squad, they must offer him back to the Yankees for $25,000 -- half the price the Rockies paid to make the pick.
For the player, it heightens the importance of Spring Training. To prepare, Kahnle started throwing earlier in hopes of not being affected by the common Spring Training soreness at a time when every pitch counts. He also is letting himself take the opportunity in stride.
"It could be nerve-wracking, but still, it's baseball," Kahnle said. "I've been doing this since I was 5 years old, really. If you think about it, I've been doing it all my life. I'll keep doing what I'm doing, give it my best shot and see if they want what I've got."
Weiss readies for Sunday's team meeting
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies manager Walt Weiss said he has planned his address for the meeting he'll conduct with his players before Sunday's first full-squad workout.
"When I get up there, sometimes I'll veer off, but I've got my essentials I want to hit on," Weiss said. "I think it's important, just to set a tone, set the expectations. Really, we're talking about trying to create an identity of how we play, what we are."
Last year, his first as manager, Weiss called for his club to be aggressive. It seemed to be working when the team was battling for first place in the National League West into June and still relevant at the All-Star break. But by the end, the Rockies sank to the cellar and stayed there.
Injuries to key hitters Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez and closer Rafael Betancourt were the key culprits. But did the aggressiveness Weiss preached play a role? Empty at-bats when runners needed to be moved or the Rockies needed men on base were a problem -- especially on the road, where they went 29-52, hit .246 with a .298 on-base percentage and averaged 3.36 runs per game.
"I don't think it was about being overly aggressive," Weiss said. "Our at-bats got youthful at times. I think that had something to do with it. We need to be quicker to adjust offensively.
"But the baserunning side of it I felt real good. After [Eric Young] was gone, we didn't have a pure basestealer. Yet we stole a lot of bases because we had a lot of guys looking for opportunities. We had a very aggressive mindset. I was very happy with that. We got doubled off sometimes, but that's a result of an aggressive mindset."
Prospect Parker in running for big league job
SCOTTSDALE -- Much of the prospect focus of Rockies camp has centered on right-handed pitchers Jon Gray (ranked No. 14 by MLB.com) and Eddie Butler (No. 41), but first baseman/outfielder Kyle Parker also is on the edge of making the Majors, where he is expected to make an impact.
Parker, the team's first-round Draft pick in 2010 out of Clemson, went just 1-for-13 in big league camp last year, but he hit 23 home runs and drove in 74 runs at Double-A Tulsa. He has topped 20 homers each of his three Minor League seasons. Now he has a chance to show the big league pitchers what he has learned.
"Everyone is here to compete and try to play as best as they can," Parker said. "Any time you go up there, you want to succeed. I'll play as hard as I can and hopefully good things happen."
Parker has played the outfield corners, primarily left last year, but he did well enough in 18 games at first base to be considered a two-position player. The Rockies want to maximize his chances to swing the bat.
"It's a right-handed power bat -- not a lot of those running around, I mean legit power," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "So he's going to get the opportunity to play the outfield and play some first. Kyle has done a nice job. He's in a good place."
• Most likely the Rockies will break with five outfielders, and 2013 All-Stars Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer and trade acquisition Drew Stubbs will be three, barring injury. Three other young outfielders had significant big league time last year -- Brandon Barnes, Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson. Also, non-roster invitee Jason Pridie has seen a good amount of big league time, and one of the team's top prospects is Parker, who plays first base and outfield.
It's a depth situation that Weiss sees as a positive, even though some of the contestants will begin the year at Triple-A Colorado Springs. But last season, when injuries hit, the Rockies had less experience to turn to, and had to turn to youth.
"We're set up to handle some things a little bit better than we were last year, because we're a little bit deeper," Weiss said. "The tough thing is all those guys are big league players and they all play the game the right way, so it's going to be tough. You have to take into consideration how the team is designed, the ability to match up and all those things that are factors. When I look at the overall club, our Plan B is a lot better than it was last year."
• Looking at history, the Rockies can keep Gonzalez in left field if the left-right platoon for the open outfield spot is Blackmon and Stubbs. Dickerson, considered more of a corner outfielder, is competing with Blackmon for left-handed at-bats. But Weiss, who threw Dickerson into center for 15 games last season, believes Dickerson can will himself into becoming a usable center fielder.
"Even in center field, I kind of fed him to the wolves out there, and he hadn't played center in a long time, I thought he handled it very well," Weiss said. "He's worked on his throwing, and everyone that's seen him so far says he's throwing much better. He's a worker who works at every aspect of his game. He's a guy that takes pride in his defense."
• Much of the offseason talk was whether catcher Wilin Rosario could move to first base on some of the occasions when Walt Weiss wants to rest Justin Morneau -- especially against a tough left-handed starting pitcher. But those times figure to be limited, with Cuddyer able to move to first base and with the team needing to find playing time for outfielders.
And Rosario's ability to play first also is a factor. He appeared at first four times, including three starts, and made two errors last season, and had an error in his only first base appearance in 2012. He has much to learn at first.
"I don't know if it's a priority, but he'll get plenty of work at first -- he'll get ground balls and we'll try to get him some action in the game over there," Weiss said.