SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There’s never a good time for back spasms, but Rockies lefty Kyle Freeland figures early spring is as OK as you can get.
Freeland left his lone Cactus League start on Thursday after two innings, while warming up for the third. The only hit he allowed was a Chad Pinder home run, and Freeland felt good about his pitch mix. Freeland threw a bullpen session on Monday and has another set for Thursday in a gradual build back to games.
Freeland has been at it awhile. Since late last season, when he used time on the injured list with a groin strain to work on changes in his motion, he has been dedicated to erasing a 2019 season in which he went 3-11 with a 6.73 ERA in 22 Major League starts, not to mention a midseason option to Triple-A Albuquerque.
Maybe it was his body telling him to back off just a little before ramping up for what he hopes will be a successful 2020.
“It’s kind of a blessing in disguise,” Freeland said. “Spring Training can get grueling and stressful on your body. It’s a nice little break to back a few things off a little bit, to make sure the body is all right and jump back into it and make sure everything’s smooth and you’re feeling good.”
Freeland was happy with the outing against the Athletics.
“I made sure that I threw a fair amount of changeups,” Freeland said. “Me and [catcher Elias] Díaz, our game plan was to work the fastball in and out, then make sure that changeup was as game-ready as possible in the first outing.”
Competition for bench roles was a theme in Tuesday’s 11-10 victory over the Cubs. Josh Fuentes had a sixth-inning, pinch-hit sacrifice fly, and Chris Owings went 3-for-3 with a double and two RBIs off the bench. Fuentes is a corner infielder, while Owings, a former D-backs mainstay, can play infield or outfield.
Utility man Brent Boswell’s two-run single and corner infielder Colton Welker’s two-run double set up Brian Mundell’s game-winning single. All are part of the depth picture.
Because their relationship fissured this offseason, it's been unclear when or if third baseman Nolan Arenado and Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich would talk this spring. Every national story that says they haven’t talked sets off widespread handwringing through Rockies Nation, but Arenado says he’s sure they’ll sit down when there’s something to discuss.
“I see him in the hallways, say hello and all that stuff, but he’s busy,” Arenado said after homering against Cubs starter Jose Quintana. “People are putting a light on us, saying, ‘Nolan and the GM aren’t talking.’ The GM doesn’t come around a whole lot. It’s no different.
“I think when he starts trimming down the roster, we’ll have talks about the team and see what we can do.”
Kinley knows how to stake a claim
Righty reliever Tyler Kinley pitched around a one-out walk for his fourth scoreless and hitless outing as he competes for potential late-inning work.
He knows how to compete. After the 2017 season, the Twins took Kinley from the Marlins in the Rule 5 Draft. He competed well enough in Twins camp to make the Opening Day roster. His early-season struggles meant he would later be returned to the Marlins, but he earned his way back to the Majors. The experience in that camp helped him grow accustomed to Spring Trainings with a lot at stake.
“It’s a great tool for me to use going forward, getting thrown into the fire right away,” said Kinley, who hopes improved fastball location will balance out his well-regarded slider.
More Shaw struggles
Righty reliever Bryan Shaw walked three and gave up two runs on two hits in two-thirds of an inning before being lifted. His frustration showed.
Shaw has yielded five runs, five hits and four walks in 2 2/3 innings over three appearances this spring. He is due $9 million in the last year of a three-year, $27 million contract. If he appears 40 times this year and is healthy next spring, it will vest a $9 million option for 2021.
Righty Antonio Senzatela, who fanned four Giants in three innings of his first Cactus League start, will face the Rangers in Surprise, Ariz., at 1:05 p.m. MT on Wednesday. Recently signed righty reliever Daniel Bard, trying to make it back to the Majors after control problems forced him out in 2013, will make his 2020 Cactus League debut.