In response to Thomas Harding's article explaining that the Rockies will not rush Ian Stewart back into Cactus League play, Steve Foster of Inside the Rockies runs over the potential candidates to replace Ian Stewart's roster spot if he is unready to start the season on the 25 Man Roster.
Because the Rockies' current selection of projected players (specifically Ty Wigginton, Jose Lopez and Jonathan Herrera) can be responsible for a variance of positions, including third base, Stewart's spot itself does not present a problem. The favorite for the starting spot will be Wigginton, whose bat most closely replaces Stewart's in the middle of the lineup, and Herrera and Lopez can provide extra cover when Wigginton has to spell Todd Helton on the other side of the diamond. The movement of Wigginton off the bench to a mostly starting role at the infield corners, however, does put the outfield depth in a slightly more significant drought, as he was essentially considered our fifth outfielder under the assumption that Jason Giambi has spot #25 locked up. I would therefore assume that the most likely candidates of the roster spot, should it be vacated, would be Cole Garner, on the 40 Man Roster, and Charlie Blackmon, who is not, both of whom can be optioned to AAA after Stewart needed the spot. But the other names on the list remain legitimate considerations.
As we learned yesterday, the crowd of potentials for the fifth starter spot was thinned as the Rockies moved previous favorite Felipe Paulino to the bullpen officially, opening the door for Esmil Rogers, who started yesterday's game. Though he was touched a bit on a 3-run home run from Ryan Braun, both Rogers and Jim Tracy were happy with the outing, likely leaving Rogers at the #1 replacement spot. Another candidate, Greg Reynolds, is still scheduled to start a game this weekend. With the Rockies set to start making the first cuts of the Spring in the next couple of days, the list behind the two of them is likely to thin. One intriguing option is Clayton Mortensen, who has had a decent Spring so far. Troy Renck mentions in his newest All Things Rockies blog post that the Rockies are working on tweaking his delivery, hoping for a positive response. Mortensen, acquired because of his sinkerball style, may be the pitcher closest to Cook in terms of skillset still in contention.
Jim Armstrong tweeted that John Maine's official opt-out date is June 1st. This gives him two months in our system before he has to be on the team or allowed to go elsewhere. Maine is another option for that final starter spot in proxy for Aaron Cook, but while he's throwing with better velocity than he did last year, he's still only just a few steps ahead of Cook in terms of adjustment to a full workload, as he was also eased into it slowly.