The Colorado Rockies on Wednesday made an under-the-radar move that could be just as important in terms of improving the team as any roster-based transaction they could possibly make.
Rick Perea, a sports performance consultant for the Denver Broncos, was hired by the Rockies to serve as a mental skills coach, according to Nick Groke of The Denver Post. Perea will replace Andy McKay, who was lured away during the offseason by the Seattle Mariners to oversee their farm.
Each team is required by Major League Baseball to have mental health-focused operations in place, as Groke noted. Considering the unique challenges Rockies players -- particularly, pitchers -- face year in and year out, such a program is of paramount importance at 20th and Blake.
""Our young pitchers do a lot of work with our mental skills coach, which is amazing for this team," bullpen coach Darren Holmes told Purple Row last April. "They do a lot of good stuff with slowing the game down."
Holmes was referring to McKay, who worked with Tyler Matzek while the enigmatic pitcher made an incredible ascent to the majors in 2014 -- and experienced a precipitous fall a year later. Perea, a former NFL player who will retain his duties with the Broncos, will have his work cut out for him with Matzek and others.
"There are some similarities [to Chad Bettis], not with the issues, the fact that there may be some isolation, but we haven't talked about taking him out of competition," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said about Matzek last week (since then, Matzek has been removed from competition). "But there are some things we are going to do in between outings to help get him over the hump."
Bettis struggled in his first two trials with the Rockies before beginning to put it all together last year. The hope is that Matzek -- and any other young pitcher who faces similar issues -- can do the same.
"It could be [an in-game issue] and that may be part of it," Weiss added. "But we still have to work in between outings and in between competition to establish a foundation that he can take into those games."
Perea's primary focus will be at the big league level, per Groke, and the Rockies plan to hire a mental skills coach to oversee the rest of the organization. With the club set to have an influx of new, young, potentially high-impact prospects in the majors within the next year or two, the significance of these roles can't be overstated.