Notes: Senzatela resists sweets, adjusts diet
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Antonio Senzatela let a smile cross his face, and his mind’s eye could see his beloved, late mother, Nidya. His nose and mouth were drifting back in time, to his school days in Valencia, Venezuela, and his mother's empanadas -- pastries filled with love, and savory goodness.
“She had an empanada stand,” Senzatela said. “Used to be, I’d go to school with two empanadas.”
But quickly, Senzatela pushed those treats to the back of the mind. In addition to a new curveball, a renewed changeup and good ol’ self-confidence -- which showed again this Spring Training with his two scoreless innings in the Rockies' 7-4 loss to the Rangers on Wednesday -- Senzatela lost 15 pounds during the offseason.
But memories of those empanadas, and a reflexive habit of grabbing candy whenever it’s laying around, will have to be tamped down once the season begins. Senzatela is a rare player who gains weight during the lengthy season. He, his wife Vanessa and young son Tiago are all partners in helping him keep the weight off, which may help him control the ERA.
Senzatela, 25, is 27-22, with a 5.33 ERA in 84 games over three seasons. Not a bad start to a pitching career. But last year was challenging for him, as he went 11-11 with a 6.71 ERA in 25 starts. He began the year on the injured list, due to an infected right-heel blister, and dealt with an in-season option to Triple-A Albuquerque.
“I want to be here a long time,” Senzatela said. “I recognize I need to eat better, stay healthy, treat my body like an athlete. Candies and everything, keep it away from me right now. It’s hard, but when you put your mind on something, you try to do it every time."
He reports the fridge is almost empty.
“My wife cooks," Senzatela said. "We keep doing empanadas, just one a month – and we're really careful. And she makes really good cakes, but she’s not making them now. We don’t put anything in the refrigerator.”
“He’s going to move better within his delivery,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “He hasn’t lost any strength. I think it might make his arm move a little quicker because his body is moving better.”
Before camp, he was considered part of a competition for two open rotation spots, but Senzatela has carried himself as if there’s just one spot, and so far he has performed that way.
In his second inning on the mound Wednesday, he left two pitches over the plate, giving up singles to Ronald Guzmán and Rob Refsnyder. Rather than use one of his secondary pitches, Senzatela threw his heavy fastball and forced Scott Heineman to ground into a double play.
Simplicity helps HoffmanNot using his slider Wednesday, right-hander Jeff Hoffman pitched two scoreless innings, a huge improvement after posting a 9.82 ERA in his first two spring appearances. Hoffman is competing for the fifth rotation spot, along with Peter Lambert and non-roster invitee Ubaldo Jiménez, among others. He pocketed his slider and used his curve effectively.
“Going into the last couple outings, we had the plan in place, but it was a little bit too much for those first two outings,” Hoffman said. “We simplified a little bit and we did some things that were the foundation. The difference was simplifying and doing the things I know I’m good at.”
• After getting three hits against the Cubs on Tuesday, utility hopeful Chris Owings started at shortstop and singled in his first three at-bats. “He’s impressive, and it’s good to see,” Black said.
• Righty Daniel Bard, trying to make it back after control problems pushed him out of the Majors in 2014, was charged with six runs on four hits and two walks in two-thirds of an inning pitched. But Black noted his delivery “looked free and easy, didn’t look uncomfortable."
• Non-roster utility man Eric Stamets was hit in the face when a throw to second took a bad hop. Black said Stamets will be fine, but he may need stitches.
The Rockies have concurrent afternoon split-squad games Thursday. Chi Chi Gonzalez faces the Royals at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick at 1:10 p.m. MT, and Peter Lambert takes the mound against the White Sox at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., at 1:05 p.m. MT.
Infielder and MLB Pipeline No. 1 Rockies prospect (No. 29 overall) Brendan Rodgers will play for the first time this spring, since undergoing surgery to repair a labrum tear in his right shoulder on July 16. Rodgers said he is "pumped," but said he had not been told which game he is playing in.