Notes: Rodgers' injury; Blackmon looking good
Tucker, Tovar impress by clubbing home runs in Cactus League loss to Rangers
SURPRISE, Ariz., -- Brendan Rodgers entered this spring with a mountain of expectations, both self-imposed and external, to elevate his game for a fifth season with the Rockies. The Gold Glover is shaping up to build his profile at the plate, but it looks like his preparation may be a tad delayed.
Early in Tuesday afternoon’s 6-4 loss to the Rangers at Surprise Stadium, Rodgers moved to his right and attempted to make a diving stop on a ground ball. He hit the ground hard, staying there until time was called, and needing the training staff to come out. After a couple minutes on the ground, he gingerly walked off with assistance.
Manager Bud Black was only able to share what happened in the moment.
“This was a pretty classic thing, the shoulder joint popped out on him, and they put it back in,” said Black, explaining that the training staff popped Rodgers' left shoulder back in and comparing it to when Yonathan Daza missed 22 games last season with a similar issue in his left shoulder.
“We’ll probably know more in the coming days, in terms of the degree and the trauma in the joint.”
Rodgers is slated to be a necessary piece that the Rockies will depend on in 2023. After a slow start in April last season (.078 batting average), he quickly caught fire, achieving an OPS+ of 143 and 136 in the months of May and June, respectively. As the No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, there’s hope that his power will rise as he aims to be more consistent at the plate.
Veteran getting into the swing of things
Heading into his 13th season with the Rockies, outfielder Charlie Blackmon’s focus turns away from a results-oriented camp. Yet, a sliver of positivity appeared after he crushed a first-pitch home run off Ian Kennedy into the hands of a fan in right field.
“It’s always good,” said Blackmon, “You start the spring and you wonder if you’ll ever get a hit again. The game is really hard, so I’m going to keep that perspective that there’s probably hard times ahead. I just want to get healthy, get through the spring and bring the guys with me.”
Blackmon’s 2022 season ended in late September after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. Coming off rehab in the offseason, he’s more preoccupied with the state of his body going forward, and how it relates to his play on the field.
“Yeah, it’s obviously early,” Blackmon said. “It’s more about how my body feels, getting used to moving faster and competing. Right now, I’m still trying to be comfortable on the field with no L screen, not in the batting cage, just competing. No matter what you do, it’s always higher intensity here [on the field].”
Black, who slotted Blackmon as the designated hitter in the leadoff spot against the Rangers, was encouraged by what he saw from his veteran leader.
“Well a good swing from Charlie on the home run, I liked that he took a walk, and he looked good on the bases,” Black said. “You know with the knee surgery at the end, right as the season ended -- his knee feels good, he’s at 100%. Like all players, he’s working on getting into game shape, but we’re encouraged by where Charlie is physically.”
Getting on the radar
Two younger players looking to etch their names onto the depth chart -- switch-hitting infielder Cole Tucker and Ezequiel Tovar, ranked as the No. 25 overall prospect by MLB Pipeline – left the yard, making a good impression on Black.
Tucker’s homer was a loud one, sending a 2-1 pitch from Kennedy deep onto the lawn in center field.
“It’s good to see,” Black said. “Cole is fighting for a spot on the team, put his best foot forward -- he’s new to the organization. He’s trying to make an impression, which is great. And he has.”
Tovar, who barely had a cup of coffee at the Major League level in 2022, launched a 2-2 pitch from reliever Joe Barlow over the right-field fence for his first homer of camp, while also adding a second RBI on a single through the left side.
“Tovar joined us last year in September, had a great year, and was sidelined a bit with an abdomen injury,” Black said. “But again, I think he’s just trying to do what he does, which is just play solid baseball. He’s hoping to make the team as well. For both of those guys, so far so good.”