The Rockies have already gotten the injury bug early into the Spring Training with the unfortunate news of Lucas Gilbreath possibly needing Tommy John surgery and Brendan Rodgers could miss the entire season with complications from a shoulder injury suffered last week. The news of Rodgers being sidelined the entire 2023 campaign has led to speculation on how the Rockies will now fill the hole at second base. Although some have speculated that Kris Bryant be moved to third and Ryan McMahon take over second, due to past experience at those positions, Kris Bryant is more likely to move outfield positions rather than join the infield corps.
In an article published Friday by MLB.com’s Thomas Harding, Kris Bryant has been getting more playing time in right field this Spring Training after spending all of his playing time in left field last season. Since 2020, Bryant has slowly increased playing in the outfield over his position at third base at the end of his run with the Cubs and the partial season with the Giants. Even with the injury to Rodgers, it appears that the Rockies will be keeping Bryant in the outfield for now. With Bryant’s additional playing time in the other corner outfield, what implications does that have on the Rockies’ outfield to start the season.
Last season, the Rockies generally had Randal Grichuk and Charlie Blackmon platooning the right field position, with 102 and 52 games played there respectively. This season, Grichuk will start the season on the Injured List due to a bilateral sports hernia that required surgery last most, meaning that right field will need to be covered by someone else, especially with Blackmon’s bigger role as the DH. While the plan for the outfield not set in stone, if Spring Training games are any indication, Kris Bryant will be splitting time in both corner outfield positions, at least until Grichuk returns. In his career, Bryant has played 189 games in left field and 109 games in right field, so he does have similar experience on the other side of the diamond in his career, making the interchangeability in the lineup a valuable asset for manager Bud Black when it comes to writing the lineup each day.
Harding also quoted saying that the decision to have Bryant play more right field is due to the fielding profiles of the other outfielders in the Rockies’ depth. Younger players, Sean Bouchard, Michael Toglia, and Nolan Jones all have experience playing right field, but with the limited amount of game experience at the big league level, may not be ready to take on full responsibilities in the outfield just yet.
Nolan Jones was acquired by the Rockies this offseason for a prospect and can play both infield and outfield positions, means he is most likely slated to be on the Opening Day roster in some capacity. Jones also is a left handed bat, which besides Charlie Blackmon, will be one of the only southpaw on the list of young players vying for an outfield position. (Both Cole Tucker and Michael Toglia are switch hitters)
Sean Bouchard can play both corner outfield positions and was impressive in his first prolong stint in Denver at the end of last season. Bouchard hit three homers and drew 19 walks in 24 games last season after hitting 20 home runs at Triple-A Albuquerque. With the way he played last season, Bouchard should be given a chance with the big league club until Grichuk is healthy enough to play.
Another younger player, Yonathan Daza, got the most playing time on the Major League club last season in his young career, but will be slated to take the starting role in centerfield. Daza does have the arm strength and speed that would be beneficial in right field, but his skills are valuable in centerfield of the vast acreage of Coors Field’s outfield.
Other players that could be an option as bench players and the fourth outfielder come Opening Day are switch hitters Michael Toglia and Cole Tucker. Toglia made his MLB debut last September and will be looking to break camp with the team as a utility outfielder and first baseman. His chances to make the team got slimmer with the signing of veteran Mike Moustakas, meaning the team might want him to get more time in Triple-A to start the year. Cole Tucker on the other hand was a waiver pick up this offseason. He spent much of his time in the Pirates’ organization before being waived last season and picked up by Arizona. But with the way things have gone for Tucker last season and the spring so far, it would be expected that other options are chosen first. Both have their switch hitting abilities as a plus, which might help their case.
Overall, the injury to Randal Grichuk has opened up playing time in right field to start the season and an opportunity for younger players to make the big league club to start the year. Kris Bryant will likely spend time in both right field and left field. Charlie Blackmon and Kris Bryant will likely get the most playing time in right, and DH or play left when the other is starting in right. Young players like Nolan Jones and Sean Bouchard will also likely get chances to start in the outfield when Kris Bryant is moved around. In any case, it’s just good to see Kris Bryant looking healthy again and able to benefit the team with his ability to play multiple outfield positions. To finish, here’s a video of Kris Bryant hitting another home run onto the concourse the other day!
How would you like to see the outfield playing time split up to start the season? Let us know in the comment!
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Rockies’ prospect and no. 25 ranked prospect in all of baseball, Ezequiel Tovar is the most exciting player to watch in the Rockies’ camp this year. While he has improved at the plate last season and thus far this spring, Tovar’s defense is always consistent. “He’s not variable. He’s steady. There is consistency to the human being. That is comforting to us,” manager Bud Black had to say about Tovar fielding. The 21 year old is trying to secure the starting job at shortstop and has been working to improve in his games this year and learn from the veterans like Ryan McMahon. So far, Tovar is hitting .286 with a home run and three walks in six Cactus League games in 2023.
After team jerseys go missing, DPD and Rockies teamed up to track down thief in an unlikely spot | CBS Colorado
Looking back on how weird the world was in 2020 during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic will always be interesting. This story is about how jerseys continued to disappear from the Rockies’ visiting clubhouse during the Covid 2020 season. Club house workers from the Padres, Giants, and Dodgers all had their own stories of jerseys and equipment missing from their records after visiting the Rockies at Coors Field. After months of investing, an unlikely thief finally was caught and apprehended. Read the story to find out what happened in this bazaar story!
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