Between the "Classic," that thrilling NCAA play-in game, and the sixth round of the FA Cup, I haven't been paying a lot of attention to the news coming out of Rockies camp this week. It is important to stop and note, however, that Ryan Shealy's transition from first baseman to outfielder has been hampered by an injury to his throwing elbow. Were Shealy able to play the outfield, he'd only be the third-best hitter on the team. BP's PECOTA projections like him nearly as much as Matt Holliday. This is a story worth watching. Hopefully by the time I make it down to Tucson the last week of March Ryan will be out there starting in the outfield.
Meanwhile Ian Stewart is just destroying Cactus League pitching; in 22 AB's the kid has five homers and three doubles and is slugging 1.409. That's pretty good. Stewart survived the first round of cuts but will more than likely begin the season in AA. That's fine. The Rockies aren't going anywhere in particular in the NL West this season, and there should be no hurry to begin the major league service clock on a player who has yet to turn 21. Garrett Atkins isn't particularly old himself, and if he can build on his decent 2005, next year the Rockies can send him somewhere else to make room for Stewart while adding a few pieces elsewhere much as the Brewers did with Lyle Overbay and Prince Fielder.
Also notable on the spring training stat table: all of the Rockies' catchers are hitting except the nominal starter, as Danny Ardoin, J.D. Closser, and sometime receiver Eli Marrero are all above .400. Yorvit Torrealba is 0 for 8. Jason Jennings and Aaron Cook have looked good so far. Mike Esposito allowed 8 runs in 3 1/3 before being sent to minor league camp. Jaime Cerda looks like the early favorite to claim the second bullpen lefty role, having allowed two hits and no runs across five appearances. Mike DeJean and Ray King have nice-looking ERAs in limited innings. Juan Morillo, Zach Day, and Judd Songster have all gotten tagged. Jeff Francis (5.40 ERA) looks about his normal away-from-Coors self. Does anybody want the fifth starter spot? Day isn't making much of a case, it appears Esposito was never really in the running, and Josh Fogg has been bad and is now hurt. Byung-Hyun Kim has looked very good in the Classic so far, not allowing a run and striking out four in 2 2/3 for the undefeated South Korean team, but his role as fourth starter has never been in question. We should be more concerned about the performance of Sunny Kim, who got hit in his only WBC start. I'm not sure who's going for KOR tonight against Japan, but a Japanese win would probably eliminate the U.S., which would be kind of funny. Oh yeah, Jeff Francis got smacked around in his one start for Canada...one of these days the kid has to pitch a good game on the road, right?
Josh Wilson and Jeff Salazar are also on the injured list, and Choo Freeman is hitting .379 and out of options, so your projected Opening Day roster now looks like this:
IF (6): Helton, Gonzalez, Barmes, Atkins, Carroll, Shealy
OF (5): Holliday, Hawpe, Sullivan, Freeman, Marrero
C (2): Torrealba, Ardoin
SP (5): Francis, Cook, Jennings, Kim, Kim
LRP (3): Fuentes, King, Cerda
RRP (4): DeJean, Cortes, Mesa, Dohmann
Jorge Piedra is hitting .143 on the spring so Shealy will probably steal his job as designated pinch hitter, particularly if he manages to log a couple of innings in left before the trip north. There's plenty of competition for the last spot in the bullpen and Dohmann is just my guess at this point given his solid second half last year. Nate Field, Tom Martin, Miguel Asencio, and those guys from the Shawn Chacon trade are around, but have work left to do. Manuel Corpas is still a few levels away.