Senzatela unbothered by hammy in 'B' game

March 17th, 2021

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Hamstring injuries, however slight, are cause for trepidation -- at least, until they aren’t. Rockies right-hander happily put himself in the no-problem bin Tuesday.

Senzatela, who hadn’t appeared in Cactus League play because of a right hamstring strain sustained during a conditioning drill, threw 45 pitches over three solid innings against the Angels in a "B" game at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

Senzatela hung a slider that Angels catcher Max Stassi clubbed for a first-inning homer, but he didn’t give up another run. More importantly, the sharpness of his slider improved in the second and third innings, his fastball velocity held, and he sprinted to cover first on an infield grounder with no hesitation or pain.

“I continued to work on my slider and my changeup when I went down, and especially my fastball,” Senzatela said. “The best thing I could do is keep building up my arm. It’s been really good.”

A normal pitching schedule would put Senzatela in line to start on March 6, the first of a three-game home series against the D-backs. Barring injuries or a change, the season-opening order is lining up as Germán Márquez for the April 1 opener against the Dodgers, followed by lefty Kyle Freeland, righty Jon Gray and lefty Austin Gomber for the four-game series with the defending World Series champions.

Manager Bud Black said Senzatela -- whose 5-3, 3.44 ERA performance in 12 starts last year earned him a one-year, $3 million deal to avoid arbitration for this year -- should increase to four innings or 60 pitches in his next Spring Training outing.

“We’re excited where he is physically,” Black said. “A couple good strikeouts -- he got their prospect, [Jo] Adell on a slider, a couple more strikeouts on the fastball. Fastball location was good.”

The numbers were as solid as the performance looked -- two hits, one run, four strikeouts, no walks and one batter clipped on the foot with a breaking ball. Then again, even if the numbers had been troublesome, things are better than the last time Senzatela endured a Spring Training injury.

In 2019, Senzatela began the regular season with a blister on his right heel. What sounds like a mild ailment ended up being worse than anyone predicted.

“That one was different -- I had to spend three days in the hospital,” he said. “I missed a lot of time on the field. This one, the second day after I got this, I ran on the field with no problem.”

Daza refuses to be counted out
In 2019, outfielder batted .364 at Triple-A Albuquerque but .206 in the Majors. Then the Rockies used his final option last year at the end of Summer Camp and he never appeared in the Majors. But this spring, Daza is refusing to be written off.

In Tuesday's 11-7 win against the Reds, Daza homered off Brandon Finnegan to open the four-run fourth. Daza also had two singles and a double on a 4-for-4 night.

The roster structure suggests the Rockies will keep left-handed-hitting, former Yankees first baseman Greg Bird as a bat off the bench. But can Daza, a strong defender, convince the Rockies -- or other teams, if the Rockies waive him in order to outright him to the Minors -- that his right-handed bat is more Major League-ready than in the past?

Playing mostly as a reserve this spring, Daza has a .464 batting average. Tuesday was a start against established pitching.

Righty hummed along for three innings against the Reds, before two hits and two walks -- the second driving in the only run against him with two down in the fourth -- ended his night. In the "B" game, righty held the Angels to one run and one hit in four innings. Rodríguez fanned four and walked three.

González and Rodríguez are staying sharp as starters, but are most likely competing for a multi-inning relief spot.

Also in the game against the Reds, righty reliever had two strikeouts in one inning as he continues his comeback from thoracic outlet surgery to correct a blood-clotting condition in his throwing arm.

Righty reliever 's rough spring continued when he gave up a homer to Tyler Naquin, the third he's allowed.

Up next
Márquez couldn’t locate his fastball last time out against the Giants, and lasted just three of his scheduled four innings before exhausting his pitch count. On Wednesday, Márquez is scheduled for five innings against the Giants at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. First pitch is set for 2:10 p.m. MT.