Senza's start in the air; Hilliard showing power

March 24th, 2022

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- After signing right-hander Antonio Senzatela to a five-year, $50.5 million deal with an option for a sixth year, the Rockies are likely to use discretion and hide him Thursday afternoon. 

It’s the wise thing to do. 

The Rockies are meeting the Dodgers at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, and while Senzatela’s pitching schedule lines up for him to make his first spring start, and he is listed for the Cactus League game, manager Bud Black said it’s likely that Senzatela will put in his three innings or 45 pitches on the back fields.

The Rockies open the regular season with a three-game series against the Dodgers at Coors Field April 7-9.  

Righty Zach Lee, a Dodgers first-round MLB Draft pick in 2010, likely will start for the Rockies in Senzatela’s place.

A solid step
The Rockies want one more power bat in their lineup and are giving center fielder Sam Hilliard, who has hit for power in the past, every chance. Hilliard’s third-inning, two-run, opposite-field home run to left during Wednesday’s 8-4 loss to the Royals illustrates why.

Hilliard’s shot came off Arodys Vizcaíno.

“Those are the ones that get you excited about Sam’s future,” Black said. “He’s been a part of [us] now for a couple years and we’ve seen that. We’ve talked about that becoming, not regular, but if you can see from at-bat to at-bat that he’s making progress. And he’s starting to get there.

“Spring Training, where we are right now, it’s good to see those types of things.”

Hilliard is 3-for-9 (.333) with four strikeouts and a walk this spring.

Blach feels good in bounce-back spring
Lefty Ty Blach started against the Royals and was charged with three third-inning runs. But that was made possible by a one-out triple, when Hilliard lost Brewer Hicken’s high-sky popup in the the sun.

Blach, who pitched for the Giants (2016-19) and Orioles (2019) before being limited to Minor League rehab outings last year because of Tommy John surgery, is competing as a starter, but if there are no rotation injuries is a prime candidate for long relief help.

“It was good just to be able to know what I need to do to execute pitches and get outs in those situations -- not let the inning get too far away from me when things start to speed up,” Blach said.