Rockies’ Ezequiel Tovar, Elehuris Montero excite, Daniel Bard concerns as camp ends
The Rockies wrapped up spring training Tuesday with an 8-1 loss to the Brewers at Salt River Fields, leaving the Rockies with a 13-19 Cactus League record.
The record is inconsequential but trends, flashes of talent and signs of trouble can often carry into the regular season.
When Colorado opens the regular season against the Padres on Thursday in San Diego, here are some themes worth paying attention to:
• Daniel Bard’s spring funk. It’s not just that the Rockies’ closer battled wildness during the World Baseball Classic, conjuring up memories of the yips that nearly ended his career. What’s also concerning is that his fastball velocity is down to 93-96 mph when last year he regularly hit 98-99 mph. Bard posted a 5.40 ERA in five Cactus League games.
• The left side of the infield features rookies Ezequiel Tovar at shortstop and Elehuris Montero at third base. There are bound to be growing pains in the field, especially for Montero, but the Rockies feel good about the kids and are eager to see them play together. Way back in the World Series season of 2007, Colorado had adequate but not very mobile Garrett Atkins at third and budding star Troy Tulowitzki at short. It worked. The comparison is premature but in time it might be an apt one.
• Speaking of Montero, the camp MVP hit .297, posted a .911 OPS, popped five homers and drove in a team-high 12 runs. Will that success transfer to the real season? That’s a huge question.
• Kris Bryant, who moved from left field to right, had a solid camp (.282/.391/.641, four homers). Most encouraging, he played in 16 games and emerged healthy with no flareup of the back woes or plantar fasciitis that limited him to 42 games last season.
• The bullpen is full of new faces and set-up man Pierce Johnson, counted on to replace the departed Carlos Estevez, posted a 2.35 ERA. Dinelson Lamet (1.00), Justin Lawrence (2.45), Ty Blach (0.77) and Brent Suter (3.52) all showed up well.
Relievers, of course, are a mercurial bunch, and spring training results need to be looked at with skepticism. The Rockies, however, broke camp feeling like the bullpen will be much improved from the group that posted a 4.82 ERA last season, the highest in the majors.
• The top of the rotation, featuring right-hander German Marquez and lefties Kyle Freeland and Austin Gomber, had an encouraging camp.
Gomber, especially, made strides and looked a lot like the pitcher who was so good during the first half of the 2021 season. In five starts (16 2/3 innings), Gomber had a 3.78 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, gave up just one homer, struck out nine, and walked four.
• The back end of the rotation was magnitude 7.5 shaky.
Right-hander Ryan Feltner was pounded for four runs on six hits (including two homers) and four walks in 4 1/3 innings Tuesday. His 9.92 Cactus League ERA, 2.20 WHIP, .394 average against and five homers surrendered are bright-red flags.
Right-hander Jose Urena (6.52 ERA, five homers) wasn’t hit as hard as Feltner, but he was far from consistent.
Right-hander Antonio Senzatela, who’s on a steady road to rejoining the rotation in May as he comes back from knee surgery, can’t come back soon enough.
Brewers 8, Rockies 1
Tuesday at Salt River Fields
On the mound: Right-hander Gavin Hollowell, on the radar to be called up in the first half of the season, pitched two-thirds of an inning and struck out one. He finished spring training with a 3.17 ERA.
At the plate: Rookie first baseman Michael Toglia, optioned to Triple-A earlier in the day, continues to rake. He hit 2 for 2 with a double and finished spring with a .307 average.
Up next: The Rockies are off Wednesday before opening the regular season on Thursday against the Padres at Petco Park (2:10 p.m. MDT). Right-hander German Marquez starts for Colorado with San Diego going with lefty Blake Snell.
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