Iannetta getting reacquainted with Rockies

February 13th, 2018

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Veteran catcher Chris Iannetta knows enough to understand that he doesn't really know the pitchers he's about to greet Wednesday, when the Rockies open pitcher-and-catcher Spring Training workouts.

Iannetta, of course, was here before -- 2006-11 -- but the only player still around from then is center fielder Charlie Blackmon, whose debut that season was halted after 27 games by a right foot fracture. And Iannetta has had a total of 53 at-bats against guys in camp with the Rockies -- led by eight against righty starter , all last season while playing for the D-backs.

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But Iannetta, 34, isn't acting as if he has all the answers. He signed a two-year, $8.5 million contract with the Rockies in December, and part of the excitement was seeing the young starting rotation from the other side. But he has intentionally reserved the detailed homework on his new teammates for the next six weeks. Iannetta figures that's enough time before the Rockies open the regular season against his old club at Chase Field on March 29.

"I took a lot of the knowledge I had from last year, what I saw from them," Iannetta said. "I saved a lot of the video stuff for the personal experience, until I got to Spring Training. A lot of times, you look at the video and you get to Spring Training and you understand the person, and you understand some of the things you see on tape.

"I try not to get too far ahead and create some preconceived notions before you get to meet the people and see what they're all about. That's what Spring Training's for. We use that time, get on the same page and get going."

The Rockies drafted Iannetta out of North Carolina in the fourth round in 2004. He was an on-again, off-again starter as part of postseason runs in 2007 and '09 before being sent to the Angels for pitcher after the '11 season. While playing for the Angels (2012-15), the Mariners (2016) and the D-backs, Iannetta earned high marks from Major League scouts as a leader and a receiver. With the Rockies fielding a rotation of no one as old as 30 -- one that has four second-year pitchers competing for jobs -- signing Iannetta made sense.

"Here initially and then going to Anaheim, I know those years there with Mike [Scioscia, the Angels' manager] and that coaching staff, he grew," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "Then these last two years in Seattle and Arizona. I think you take away a lot of experiences from being around different coaching staffs and catching instructors and pitchers and managers. It's only natural that you're going to get better."

Rockies righty , who operates as an information-seeker rather than as a dogmatic, is looking forward to hearing Iannetta's viewpoint.

"Every time I throw to a new catcher, I learn something about myself that they show me," said Gray, looking to develop further after going 10-4 with a 3.67 ERA last season -- his first as the club's No. 1 starter. "I know he's a guy who has seen a ton of guys throw. He may have something new for me that he sees. It'll be fine. I'll learn a little more about him. He'll learn a little more about us."

Iannetta said during his earlier time with the Rockies, he learned from high-character players "how they worked, how they played, what they did on and off the field, how they treated people, everything," and applied it to his career. The opportunity to pass those lessons to a new group of Rockies came as a pleasant surprise.

"You move on from a team or they move on from you, however you look at it, and you never think it's a possibility," he said. "I enjoyed my time here the first time around. It was pretty cool that the chance was on the table. As the offseason formed and really became a reality, I started to get really excited about it."