3/9/2014 7:38 P.M. ET
Rockies waiting to see if bullpen moves pay off
By Cash Kruth / MLB.com
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Colorado made two big offseason moves to shore up a rocky bullpen that was overworked and undermanned last season, but the club has yet to see its upgraded relief corps come together in Arizona.
Closer LaTroy Hawkins (one year for $2.5 million, plus a club option) and lefty Boone Logan (three years for $16.5 million) were key additions to a 'pen that in 2013 threw the most innings (555 2/3), allowed the most runs (278) and had the highest average against (.270) in the National League.
A good chunk of the bullpen's struggles came after Rafael Betancourt's season-ending elbow injury, leaving the Rockies scrambling for arms. The acquisition of Hawkins and Boone -- as well as the expected growth from youngsters Rex Brothers and Adam Ottavino -- have added much-needed depth for the upcoming season, Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.
The problem this spring, however, is that Logan has yet to see the field as he recovers from offseason surgery that removed bone chips from his throwing elbow, though he is progressing. That means Weiss hasn't been able to get a true idea of what he has.
The Rockies are hoping find out sooner rather than later, but one thing Weiss is already certain of is that this season's bullpen looks better on paper than last year's.
"Yeah, I think so," Weiss said. "Definitely more versatile. And deeper."
Nicasio, Chatwood filling in impressively for Chacin
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Sunday was a good day for two right-handers the Rockies are hoping to get early-season contributions from.
Tyler Chatwood and Juan Nicasio -- who will bump up to Colorado's Nos. 3 and 4 starters, respectively, until Jhoulys Chacin (shoulder strain) returns -- each threw scoreless outings in the Rockies' 10-1 win over the Royals at Surprise Stadium.
Nicasio started and turned in his second shutout performance of the spring, allowing one hit, walking one and striking out three in four innings. He said he was pleased with how he was able to attack down in the zone with all of his pitches.
The biggest reason Nicasio has been able to keep the ball down this spring is health. Last season, he was still dealing with the aftermath of 2012 arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. Now "100 percent" healthy, Nicasio can land on his left leg with no worry of experiencing discomfort, which has helped with his confidence.
"I'm feeling comfortable and that's why my breaking ball is sharp now," he said.
Manager Walt Weiss said Nicasio's trust in his breaking stuff is noticeably different from last season.
"That's exactly it," Weiss said. "We've got to encourage him to keep throwing that and gain confidence in that. But his secondary stuff overall is much better than it was."
Chatwood followed Nicasio with two scoreless innings of his own, giving up one hit and walking one.
"When he's down in the zone with his fastball, he's really, really good," Weiss said. "He dominated some really good lineups last year at times. It was encouraging to see that from both of those guys."
Getting similar outings from Nicasio and Chatwood during the regular season is key for the Rockies to get off to a good start as their ace recovers. Nicasio said he's ready to step up.
"We have a lot of pitching here and it's a good opportunity for everybody," Nicasio said. "Work hard and when the season starts, try helping the team win and pitching well."
Contracts finalized for 26 players
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rockies finalized one-year contracts for 26 players Sunday, meaning all players now are signed for the 2014 season.
Those who finalized deals Sunday:
Right-handers Chad Bettis, Tyler Chatwood, Raul Fernandez, Tommy Kahnle, Jordan Lyles, Adam Ottavino and Rob Scahill.
Left-handers Jayson Aquino, Rex Brothers, Christian Friedrich, Tyler Matzek and Kraig Sitton.
Catchers Jordan Pacheco and Wilin Rosario.
Infielders Cristhian Adames, Nolan Arenado, Charlie Culberson, Rosell Herrera, DJ LeMahieu, Josh Rutledge and Ryan Wheeler.
Outfielders Brandon Barnes, Charlie Blackmon, Corey Dickerson, Kent Matthes and Kyle Parker.
• Rosario had a two-run single in first inning Sunday, his first Cactus League action since Wednesday. More impressively, he gunned down two baserunners -- one at second and another at first, leading to a rundown.
"Wilin had a great day on both sides of the ball," Weiss said. "I don't think you can make a better throw than the one he made on the stolen-base attempt."
• Parker, the club's first-round pick in the 2010 Draft, had a two-run double in the seventh inning and a three-run double in the ninth.
"He can put a charge in the ball, as you saw today," Weiss said. "Legit power bat."
• Right-hander Eddie Butler, the club's No. 2 prospect, allowed one hit and induced two ground balls -- one leading to a double play -- in the ninth.