Fans and writers alike spend a long time waiting for spring training to get started. Anticipation builds with each free agent signing and trade rumor. By the time we get to March, the sight of box scores brings joy but also the illusion that these exhibition games, which now can end after as early as five innings of play, actually mean anything.
For Rockies fans, it’s been an unbearably awful off season. But yesterday, when Bud Black trotted out a lineup yesterday that resembles what he might send out on Opening Day (sans DH, of course), the core hitters for the Rockies beat up Arizona Diamondbacks’ pitching to the tune of six runs in five innings including four home runs.
Maybe it was just a good day, but the Diamondbacks put two legitimate MLB starting pitchers on the mound. Luke Weaver is the projected third starter in the Diamondbacks rotation according to Fangraphs’ Roster Resource. Corbin Martin is ranked as the sixth best prospect in the Diamondbacks system and is a popular breakout candidate this season.
If the Rockies are going to surprise anyone this season, hitting a lot of home runs is certainly a good way to make it happen.
For years, the potential for Brendan Rodgers to breakout as a power-hitting second baseman has been touted but to no avail. This appears to be the season where he is both healthy enough and will be afforded the opportunities to truly emerge as an MLB starter. In yesterday’s game he was 2-for-3 with a double and a home run (his second this spring).
Ryan McMahon has big shoes to fill. No one expects him to achieve the defensive wizardry at the level of Nolan Arenado, who may very well be the best defensive third baseman in the history of baseball. But, playing above average defense and hitting with some power are within range. Yesterday, McMahon not only flashed the leather making some nice plays at the hot corner but also hit his first home run of the spring, a 439-foot shot to center field.
At first base, a noted competition is in full force. Suiting up as DH on for the game, first baseman CJ Cron had a huge day going 3-for-3 with two doubles and a home run. Cron’s power is what makes him the expected starter at first base once the season starts. If Cron can keep it up, he could be the first Rockies first baseman to hit 30 home runs since Mark Reynolds back in the 2017 season.
Not to be outdone, Trevor Story made it to the home run party following up McMahon’s blast in the third inning with a 449-foot blast of his own.
Even though it was just a meaningless spring training game, this one looked like it could be a glimpse of what’s to come. While the infield won’t combine to hit four homers every game, there are a handful of players with the potential to hit 30-plus home runs, and they might just actually do it.
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In addition to the power display by the Rockies infield, Chi Chi González had a very nice start going three innings and allowing just one earned run. It was a clean performance by the bullpen with the exception of Jairo Díaz who struggled through the sixth inning allowing three earned runs on five hits including a home run by Christian Walker. The game went seven innings and gives the Rockies a record of 5-3 in the Cactus League.
Yesterday, the Colorado Rockies released a statement that in cooperation with MLB and the State of Colorado, they will begin the season by allowing 42.6% (21,363 seats) of the stadium’s capacity to attend games in person. This is an increase from the previously reported amount of 12,500. Tickets will go on sale Thursday, initially to Rockies Plan holders.