3/2/2014 7:07 P.M. ET
Belisle seeks to keep hitters guessing in '14
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander Matt Belisle is being patient and measured in his evaluation of his Spring Training project -- to tweak his approach just enough to keep opponents off his pitches.
Belisle, 33, a frequently used setup man whose struggles last season (5-7, 4.32 ERA in 72 games) were costly in some tight games, is incorporating his changeup and looking to pitch inside. Those are parts of his strategy that he said he got away from last year, and hitters caught on. The velocity on the four-seam fastball has dropped some -- possibly a product of 302 appearances and 317 innings over the last four years -- but his sinker, slider and changeup measure as similar, and he added a cutter three seasons ago.
On Saturday, in his first Cactus League outing, Belisle gave up a run in a 3-2 loss to the Reds in which he hit two batters (one he grazed with a cutter, one with a fastball) and gave up two hits in one inning.
"Yesterday was about getting back into a rhythm," Belisle said. "I wanted to employ some different signs with the catcher. That was a new rhythm. I feel great about it. I don't like the results, obviously, but as far as my plan about what I'm trying to get done this spring and how I'm going to attack guys this year, I was good with that a long time ago. It's not a big problem for me to put that into play. I missed some spots with it yesterday, but the gameplan was there."
Belisle said his changes will not be radical.
"Heck no," he said. "This was never a significant change. These are subtleties that I've done in the past to become less predictable. That's all. Everything that I've done in the past to get people out will still be there. It's just mixing things up."
Logan again starts slow, but with brighter outlook
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies left-handed reliever Boone Logan's 2014 Spring Training has a similar pattern to last year's, when he was with the Yankees. He will not pitch much because of a problem with his throwing elbow. But there is one significant difference -- one that makes Logan happy.
Last year, Logan's elbow hurt throughout Spring Training. He kept activity light in an attempt to avoid surgery, and he did so until the final month of the season, when he had surgery to shave a bone spur and remove chips.
This year, Logan, 29, is building strength, rather than simply managing pain. Logan has yet to throw a bullpen session. After throwing long-toss Sunday, he and the Rockies' staff on Monday will determine what the next step will be.
"I was just getting through the pain last year [in Spring Training], and I think I got into four games or something like that," Logan said. "If that's the case this year, I've got a better mindset. I'm going to be better prepared because I know I won't have any pain. It's all by feel. We've got plenty of time and don't want to rush it."
The Rockies were confident enough in Logan's ability to regain health that they signed him to a three-year, $16.5 million contract during the offseason to be one of the late-inning lefty setup men, along with Rex Brothers, who will work as part-time closer with LaTroy Hawkins.
• If he could have, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said he would have challenged a second-inning play when Rockies third baseman Charlie Culberson threw out Falu at the plate on Sunday. The Rockies' Walt Weiss said he would have challenged Troy Tulowitzki's being called out when he tried to scramble back to first on Wilin Rosario's bases-loaded line drive to second baseman Rickie Weeks.
Weiss said he would use a simple approach to replay challenges, which on Monday will be available for the first time.
"I'm not going to say, 'Well, that wasn't a big play, I'm not going to challenge it,'" Weiss said. "You've got to simplify it and say, 'I think they got it wrong, and I'm going to challenge it.' How do you know that it's not a big play, if there are two outs and nobody on and it won't lead to a big inning?'"
Weiss said he would lean heavily on advice from whoever is monitoring the video. Weiss rarely opposed calls and was not ejected from a game last season, and he does not claim to be able to tell if an umpire erred from his vantage point.
"It's really hard for me to tell from the dugout," Weiss said. "I bet 75 percent of the time I have no idea if he's out or safe. You've got people in your way. You're far away from the play. So a guy watching the slow-motion replay is going to have much more."
• Rockies center fielder Drew Stubbs missed the first two Cactus League games with an esophagus condition, but he had a couple of high points in his debut against the Brewers on Sunday.
Stubbs, hoping to reverse his troubles against right-handed pitching, led off the first by pushing Brewers starter Matt Garza to a full count before lining a single into left field. Stubbs also dashed to deep center to field Jason Rogers' fly ball in the second.
• In the first inning, the Brewers' Khris Davis hit a bouncer deep into the left-side hole that Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki fielded before unleashing the across-the-body throw that is his trademark. Last year, coming off groin problems in 2012, making such a play this early in the spring would have been ill-advised for Tulowitzki.
• Matt McBride, who spent last season at Triple-A Colorado Springs playing mostly catcher, tripled, and had a leaping catch of a Kevin Mattison fly ball against the wall while playing right field.