Forget the game last night -- well yes, Barry Bonds hit a home run, that's somewhat significant, but ultimately indecisive, as it was a solo shot and the Rockies lost by two, anyway. There is a lot of news surrounding Colorado all of a sudden and it's going to take a rare midgame post to cover it all.
First and foremost is Todd Helton's mystery illness. At the tail end of the week for which he was fan-voted "player of the homestand," Helton complained of a headache after Wednesday's game, was hospitalized Thursday with a fever and stomach cramps, sat out the game Friday, and finally hit the DL today. Helton has yet to receive a definitive diagnosis. Quite few Rockies, including Scott Dohmann (who also spent time on the DL), Eli Marrero, Garrett Atkins, and Sun-Woo Kim, have battled viral infections in the early going this year. (Is this the altitude's fault, too?) The clubhouse reaction is equal parts confusion and fear. Todd Helton never gets sick. He never complains. Colorado can survive a few weeks without Todd's numbers, but will they be able to maintain focus while concerned about the long-term well-being of their obvious leader and unofficial captain? More news as soon as we have any.
Ryan Spilborghs returns from Colorado Springs to serve as Helton's temporary replacement, his recall necessitating the release of Eduardo Sierra ("When it's said that a player was traded for 'a warm body,' Sierra is what they mean" -- Baseball Prospectus 2006), the other pitcher along with Ramon Ramirez acquired in the Shawn Chacon deal. Chacon hasn't been very good for the Yankees thus far this year, and Ramirez has been the biggest among any number of pleasant surprises in the Rockies bullpen, so maybe we won that trade after all. Not that Dan O'Dowd's goal was net talent improvement in that deal -- the Rockies just really wanted Shawn Chacon, his attitude, and his salary somewhere else.
Speaking of pitchers we can't wait to see pack their suitcases, Zach Day is contesting his release, claiming that he belongs on the disabled list with a shoulder issue. Day has barely been healthy for a moment of his Colorado tenure, but he's simply never been an effective pitcher during that time, so however this ends up being resolved (and it's possible the Rockies could respond to Day's grievance with their own), let's just hope he doesn't further damage the franchise by ever pitching for it again.
There's old school, and then there's stupid. Matt Morris threw at two Rockies in the first inning of the game today, apparently in retaliation for a Jose Mesa beaning of Omar Vizquel Saturday, and consequently the umpires ejected Morris, Felipe Alou, and even pitching coach Dave Righetti. This may well end up costing San Francisco the game, the series, and an uncontested share of first place. Though Colorado has yet to capitalize, Morris's sub Kevin Correia has walked four in two and a third.
Jeff Francis looks excellent today, showing fine command of his curve and pounding the lower half of the zone for strikes. I think most Rockies fans felt like it was only a matter of time before Jeff got back on track, but now is as good a time as any. Of course, now that I've gone and written this while he's still on the mound, he'll probably get chased with a patented six-run Coors inning. But that will be my fault and not Francis's.