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Iannetta delivers first spring home runs

Catcher drives in five Rockies runs; O'Malley injures hand; Dahl busts spring slump
March 2, 2018

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Catcher Chris Iannetta launched his first two Cactus League homers Friday. In his first at-bat, he drove an offering from D-backs starter Albert Suarez over the left-field fence for a three-run home run. In the bottom of the fifth, Iannetta came up with one on, and delivered

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Catcher Chris Iannetta launched his first two Cactus League homers Friday. In his first at-bat, he drove an offering from D-backs starter Albert Suarez over the left-field fence for a three-run home run. In the bottom of the fifth, Iannetta came up with one on, and delivered his second shot of the day to break a tie. The Rockies would go on to win 15-6.
"I got some good pitches to hit," Iannetta siad. "I've been trying to find my swing in Spring Training. I grounded out to the shortstop a bunch leading up to this. It's early. I put the barrel to a couple."
Iannetta returned to the Rockies after playing the first six years of his big league career in Colorado. He played four seasons with the Angels after being traded for right-handed pitcher Tyler Chatwood, and played a year each in Seattle and Arizona, where his D-backs beat the Rockies in the Wild Card Game last year.
"He's a big part of our core players from an experience standpoint, from a leadership standpoint, from a very important position," manager Bud Black said before the game. "He'll be a very important part of our pitching, catching dynamic, for sure. In a lot of ways."
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The Rockies are counting on Iannetta to provide a veteran presence behind the plate for a young pitching staff expected to make big strides this season. And though Iannetta is a known presence around the league and was a mainstay behind the dish when he came up with the Rockies, there is only one player in the organization who was on the Rockies' big league roster when Iannetta last played for the club in 2011 -- Charlie Blackmon.
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On Friday, Iannetta caught both Chad Bettis -- who started and pitched 2 1/3 innings, giving up four runs on six hits, including a Jake Lamb grand slam -- and Antonio Senzatela, who threw three innings of one-run ball in his bid for a spot in the Rockies' rotation.
"I thought [Bettis] pitched really well," Iannetta said. "He got a little tired and just left some balls up in that last inning, but up until then he was doing a really good job using all his pitches and working both sides of the plate really well."
O'Malley injured
Shawn O'Malley, a candidate for a utility role on the 25-man roster, left the game with a hand injury in the third inning after making a stunning play to stop a David Peralta ball from breaking through to the outfield.

"We're going to go check on him, but there's the possibility of a broken hand," Black said. "He's been playing well. He's a hard little player. Got a base hit, tried to stretch it [into a double, unsuccessfully] like we like to do here in Spring Training. Test your boundaries. Made a great play on that ball up the middle. Too bad, it's a shame."
Slump buster
David Dahl got his first hit of the spring, a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth. He was 0-for-15 coming into Friday's game.
"It felt really good," Dahl said of driving a ball out of the park in straightaway center. "It was a changeup that I actually recognized and stayed on it and put a good swing on it. I'll just build from there."
Dahl, who entered the game as a pinch hitter in the fourth inning, is one of several Rockies players currently competing for a reserve outfielder roster spot.
Built to play
Nolan Arenado started his sixth spring game Friday in just the eighth day of Cactus League play. The only other Rockies to start as many or more games are Raimel Tapia (7), Dahl (6), and Mike Tauchman (6), who are all competing for a roster spot as the fourth outfielder.
"He's proven the durability," Black said of Arenado. "And he's sort of built to play. Some players are truly built to play and are wired mentally to handle that. He's one of those players. He's shown that ability to stay fresh, to stay in a good spot physically and mentally to play every day."
The 26-year-old third baseman has five seasons under his belt and five Gold Gloves on his mantel. Over the past three seasons he's played 157, 160, and 159 games in succession, and neither he nor his manager have any desire to slow his pace down.

"I think the continued usage will probably be very similar to what it's been," Black said. "He's just wired and built that way, both mentally and physically, to play. It's great, your best players, when they have that in them. That guy Cal Ripken did it for a while, too."
Ripken didn't miss a game for 14 seasons, amassing a streak of 2,632 consecutive games played.
Medical tent
The only projected starter not to appear in a Cactus League game this spring is Gerardo Parra, who is penciled in as the Rockies' Opening Day right fielder. Parra had surgery to remove the broken hook of the hamate bone in his right hand in February.
"I started hitting yesterday, BP," Parra said Friday. "Yesterday I felt a little bit sore, but I'll be back soon. I feel good. I feel ready. Just maybe wait a couple more days."

The Rockies will take his return a little more cautiously, using his absence to evaluate candidates for a fourth outfielder spot on the roster.
"He's going to continue to increase the intensity in swings and the volume of swings," Black said. "The training staff and the doctors are really, really happy with where he is. If he continues at this pace, within the next week, eight, nine days, we might get him in a game."
Parra will make another progression when he faces live pitching for the first time this spring, possibly Sunday or Monday, according to Black.
On deck:
The Rockies host the Brewers Saturday for a 1:10 p.m. M.T. tilt. Kyle Freeland will make his second start, and new closer Wade Davis is scheduled to make his Rockies debut in his first spring game.

Owen Perkins is a contributor to