Notes: Freeland's back; Tapia, Kinley on a roll

March 9th, 2020

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- New delivery. No back spasms. Positive results.

It was a productive return to Cactus League action for on Sunday afternoon, as the Rockies left-hander tossed three strong innings in a 3-1 win over the Indians at Salt River Fields. He allowed only two hits while walking a pair and striking out four.

Most importantly, Freeland’s back is feeling better. It previously locked up on him when he was warming up ahead of the third inning of his first spring start against the A’s on Feb. 27.

“Back felt good all the way through, didn’t feel a thing, was able to go 100 percent,” Freeland said.

Freeland continues to look comfortable with his revamped delivery. After struggling in 2019, the southpaw decided to remove the slight pause he had incorporated at the top of his throwing motion the past three years.

In his first Cactus League start utilizing the revamped delivery, Freeland’s only blemish was giving up a solo home run. That was again the case this time out, as he gave up a solo shot to Bobby Bradley in the second inning.

Other than that, it was a clean outing and another step forward for Freeland, who induced five groundouts using a mix of his fastball, changeup and curveball.

“It feels natural, the only time I was jumpy was on my fastball, which was a little uncommon. Everything else I was staying back in my legs and driving down the mound,” Freeland said. “But overall, the mechanics and everything felt smooth.”

Freeland said his intention in spring outings is to get a different pitch “locked in” each time out. In his first start, it was his changeup. This time, he focused on his curveball, which is the reason why he threw only two sliders among his 53 pitches.

Although Freeland wasn’t getting swings and misses with his curve early in the game, he was pleased with the action he was getting on the breaking pitch. He later got Delino DeShields to whiff at a curve for a strikeout to begin the third.

Rockies manager Bud Black was impressed by Freeland’s offspeed offerings in the outing.

“He’s confident, his arm speed’s not changing, which is great,” Black said. “He’s got some depth to it.”

Tap time
After playing his first full season at the big league level in 2019, outfielder is looking to build off that solid campaign heading into ’20. And he’s gotten off to a good start in the Cactus League.

Tapia went 1-for-2 with a home run, a two-run shot in the second off Indians' right-hander Jefry Rodriguez. He is now 10-for-29 with two homers and five RBIs in 12 games this spring.

Last season, Tapia hit .275/.309/.415 with nine homers and 44 RBIs in 138 games for Colorado. He’s likely to be in a left-field platoon with Ian Desmond this year, with the left-handed-hitting Tapia mostly starting against right-handers.

Kinley impressing in spring
Battling for a spot in the bullpen, right-hander Tyler Kinley is having a strong first spring with the Rockies. The 29-year-old pitched a perfect ninth inning to preserve his 0.00 Cactus League ERA through six outings.

Kinley, who was claimed off waivers from the Marlins on Dec. 9, has allowed only two hits and struck out six over six innings this spring.

“Obviously, you like the velocity. The intent is there every pitch. Really like the slider,” Black said. “He’s got a good head on his shoulders, clear thinker. There’s a lot to like.”

Up next
After an off-day Monday, the Rockies return to Cactus League action Tuesday, when they host a Reds split squad at 2:10 p.m. MT at Salt River Fields. Right-hander Chi Chi González is set to start as he continues to battle for a spot in Colorado’s rotation. He has a 9.00 ERA over three spring games (two starts), but he pitched three scoreless innings vs. Kansas City last time out. Right-handers Peter Lambert, Daniel Bard, Scott Oberg and Kinley are also scheduled to pitch.