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Inbox: Checking in with Brendan Rodgers

November 6, 2019

DENVER -- It’s not often that the player being asked about in the Inbox is in position to help with the answer. We’re in luck this week.

DENVER -- It’s not often that the player being asked about in the Inbox is in position to help with the answer. We’re in luck this week.

Brendan Rodgers, 23, debuted in May with much fanfare but hit .224 in 25 games over two stints, then underwent season-ending right labrum surgery in July. It was clear the best of Rodgers -- .350/.413/.622 slash line in 37 games at Triple-A Albuquerque – never showed. Two barrels and a 32.7 percent hard-hit rate in 49 Major League batted balls was not what was expected.

But Rodgers, reached by phone in his native Orlando, Fla., after a rehab session Tuesday, reports things are headed in the right direction. It could be a matter of days before he begins a throwing program, and he expects to be at full capability come Spring Training.

Some highlights:

• He can’t pinpoint the exact moment of injury, but it occurred well before an ill-fated throw in Los Angeles forced him off the field.

“It was off and on,” Rodgers said. “Some days I would feel like I slept on it wrong. I would roll it out and it would be all right -- I’d get to the game and get loose and feel really good. Some days, it was the opposite. I never could get it down. On that one throw, it was just a really different feeling.

“The whole shoulder was in the back of my head, and I pressed a lot -- I didn’t start to play every day. It’s not an easy role.”

• The numbers weren’t good, but the experience was invaluable, whether it was pregame work with manager Bud Black, third-base coach Stu Cole and hitting coach Dave Magadan, or with his more-experienced teammates.

“I’m a big listener,” he said. “I learned a lot from just me asking simple questions, and guys going all out and giving me more of an answer than I was asking for. They have so much passion and love for the game, they can go on all day about my simple question. I couldn’t ask for more.”

• As for the question that led us here, Rodgers, a shortstop by trade who has been trained intensely at second and third, isn’t saying. He wants to get healthy, regain the swing that powered him through the Minors and show it come spring.

“I’d say about two weeks after surgery I’ve been in and out of therapy every day, trying to get my shoulder as healthy as possible and try to show everyone what I can do, how I can produce when I’m healthy,” he said. “I don’t really talk much. I like playing and letting my play do the talking.”

I like your thinking here, although I would have a hard time believing the Twins would part with Mitch Garver, a catcher who hit 31 home runs in 359 plate appearances in 2019. Byron Buxton, 25, a former first-round pick, was up and down last season but is an asset on both sides.

While we are being creative, I believe the Pirates would be more motivated to move assets such as center fielder Starling Marte and/or right-handed pitcher Chris Archer. Both had their options picked up this week, but they have affordable salaries. Although pitching is at a premium in this sport, Marte -- coming off a productive season offensively -- might require more in terms of what the Rockies would have to relinquish.

Archer, 31, due $9 million this coming season and either $11 million in 2021 or a $250,000 buyout, dealt with a shoulder injury in August. But his decision to return to heavy use of the four-seam fastball, which brought him success in Tampa Bay, could help him return to past production. A change of scenery could be good for Archer, who is seen in Pittsburgh as the fruit of an ill-fated deal in which the Pirates gave up pitcher Tyler Glasnow and outfielder Austin Meadows.

Marte, 31, owner of two Gold Gloves and a solid .295/.342/.503 slash line last season, will make $11.5 million next year and has a club option for 2021 valued at $12.5 million or a $1 million buyout. He would immediately upgrade the defense at Coors Field.

Last week, general manager Jeff Bridich said he was in the beginning stages of communicating with other clubs about trade possibilities.

I like the outfield depth, but as I addressed in my earlier answer it would be great to insert an experienced defender in center. Despite what was said at the season-ending address, expect the Rockies to push for trade possibilities.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.