Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spring Training Hits & Misses: Game 24 vs. Cincinnati


Todd Helton

The Rockies offense struggled with Reds ace Johnny Cueto early in today's game. Well, with the exception of Todd Helton, who connected for a pair of solo home runs — a second inning shot to right and an opposite field blast in the fourth. I actually decided to go back and watch the second one a couple more times just so I could admire it some more. It really was picture perfect swing on a pitcher's pitch down and away. Every hitting coach should have that swing on tape and show it to their pupils repeatedly. It was professional hitting at its finest.

Casey Blake

Blake desperately needed a moment that not only made himself feel confident heading into the season, but the Rockies coaching staff and myself as well. He had that moment in the fifth inning when he crushed a two-run homer to left off Cueto to give the Rockies the lead.

It was a good step in the right direction, but my hope is the Rockies will continue to make Blake prove himself (health wise and on field production) before adding him to the opening day roster. I know the Rockies won't ask him to play 130 games, so that helps his cause, but they can't afford to have any dead spots on the roster like we saw for too many extended periods last season.

Alex White

Apparently White doesn't want to be overlooked in this bullpen mix. He was excellent today in his latest audition to be the bullpen's bridge guy (starter-to-late inning relievers), throwing two scoreless and striking out three. Among his victims: Drew Stubbs, Brandon Phillps and Joey Votto. All very good hitters.

Esmil Rogers

Rogers is in that relief mix as well, and to his credit he bounced back nicely from a rough outing on Saturday to retire Votto, Scott Rolen and Jay Bruce in order in the ninth inning. It's also encouraging that he had success on the back end of back-to-back outings. That's a big step in proving he can handle what the Rockies have planned for him. Like I said yesterday, he's still one of my sleepers to perform well above expectations.


Matt Reynolds

Not a lot of bad to choose from today, but Reynolds did struggle in the eighth inning allowing three hits and a walk. Fortunately, it only amounted to one run, and since he's been fairly solid most of the spring, we'll only call this a minor miss.

Got Their Work In

Jhoulys Chacin

Chacin's line: 5 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 2 K

Cueto's line: 6 IP, 5 ER, 6 H, 0 BB, 1 K

I put Cueto's line there because even though Chacin left the game in much better shape, it's a little troubling that Cueto was still able to throw an extra inning. And that's the thing with Chacin that's holding him back. Yes, he's going to give you a nice line far more times than not, but the wasted pitches and extra traffic leading to more wasted pitches end his outings too quickly. It's doesn't mean much in the spring, but those lost innings will add up during the season.

And that doesn't go unnoticed by pitching coach Bob Apodaca, whose honest assessment of Chacin during his in-game interview refreshed me. Apodaca pointed out that Chacin was sloppy and unfocused for much of his outing and that there's still plenty of room for improvement. Most of the improvement obviously needs to come on the mental side.

Oh, yeah, and the score in case you're wondering

The Rockies played a very solid nine innings today and soundly defeated the team most are pegging to win the National League Central by a score of 7-3.

What's next

The Rockies will battle Albert Pujols and the Angels on Monday afternoon at 2:05 MT and it will be broadcast live on the MLB Network and MLB.TV.

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