After the first week and change of Spring Training, there are a few developments with players so far that I’ve found interesting and potentially important for the Rockies’ success in 2014.
Drew Stubbs has been hitting first or second in the order for most of spring training. As variable as spring training lineups can be, especially this early on, it’s pretty suggestive that Stubbs will find himself in that spot once the season opens. When he came up with the Reds, he was noted as having a good walk rate with some speed to boot. Also, hitters that strikeout tend to do a little better in Coors Field as they tend not to be neutralized by curveballs visiting at altitude.
Justin Morneau is still recovering from a stiff neck, though according to the Denver Post, he has regained full range of motion. He first had issues with a pinched nerve in his neck in 2010 and had surgery back then to correct it. Morneau has had problems remaining healthy in recent years, though his neck has not always been the issue. In the meantime, Ryan Wheeler has seen a majority of the time at first base, hitting .318 through Sunday’s action but no extra base hits as of yet.
Experiencing some shoulder pain, Jhoulys Chacin threw from 60 feet on March 7th and is hoping to return to the rotation by the end of April. As the Rockies defacto ace, and a young one at that, a healthy and effective return is vital if the Rockies are to break the .500 mark.
Josh Rutledge hit his first spring training home run on Sunday after missing days earlier in the week with a bad ankle. After a disappointing 2013 where he hit .235 with an empty slugging and batting average, he is not a guarantee to be the Rockies regular starter at second base but a continued power display can help his cause.
Juan Nicasio threw four innings on Sunday, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out three. Two years removed from getting hit in the head by a line drive which broke a vertebrae in his neck and a year after wrenching his knee fielding a grounder, Nicasio was healthy if not effective in 2013. Nicasio skipped AAA ball, going directly from AA to the majors in 2011 and with the injuries, it may be that he never had the chance to figure everything out. Even when he has been hurt or ineffective, his walk and home run rates are generally serviceable. Perhaps this spring is when he is able to put everything together.