The Rockies have reassigned Tom Murphy and Eddie Butler to minor league camp today, according to the Denver Post's Patrick Saunders. Though neither of the moves themselves are that surprising, their timing does reveal a bit of the Rockies' plan to start the season.
After an impressive major league debut last September Tom Murphy struggled this spring, collecting only two hits and carrying a .095 batting average. Those two hits were impressive as they were both home runs. Murphy will be able to receive more consistent at-bats in the minor league camp, though he may still make an appearance or two in MLB spring training games.
Murphy's struggles also opened up the door for the Rockies to start him in the minors this season, reducing his service time and possible recouping a year of control. After his MLB debut last September it appeared that the Rockies may not be concerned with gaining that year of control, but that is once again a possibility.
Murphy's demotion also settles one of the intriguing position battles in spring training. Dustin Garneau now sits alone in the lead for the race to be Nick Hundley's backup at catcher.
With starters getting stretched out further, the amount of opportunities for starting pitchers not expected to be part of the Opening Day roster resulted in Butler being reassigned to minor league camp as well.
As has been his norm so far as an MLB pitcher, Butler showed some good things, but struggled at times to finish batters off, as well as innings, and has a 7.04 ERA so far in spring training.
Butler wasn't expected to be part of the Opening Day rotation unless injuries devastated the Rockies pitching staff; his demotion doesn't affect the expected 25-man roster. Expect Butler to be part of Triple-A Albuquerque's starting rotation, and hopefully with a rebound in his development be able to be quality starting depth for the Rockies this summer.
In addition to Butler and Murphy, the Rockies announced that they have also optioned right-handed pitchers Carlos Estevez and German Marquez and outfielder Raimel Tapia to minor league camp. They are each on the 40-man roster. Additionally, the Rockies have reassigned the following non-roster players to minor league camp: right-handed pitcher Shane Carle, left-handed pitcher Sam Moll, and outfielders Jordan Patterson and Noel Cuevas. The Rockies now have 47 players in big league camp, 12 of whom are non-roster players.