Black 'concerned' with Freeland's injury exit

March 24th, 2021

Rockies left-hander exited Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to the Athletics in Mesa, Ariz., with a left shoulder strain.

After spiking a pitch to third-inning leadoff hitter Mark Canha, Freeland reached with his right hand to grab an area toward the bottom of the shoulder, then was guided off the field and replaced with Yency Almonte.

“The back of the shoulder was where the pain was coming from,” said Rockies manager Bud Black, adding that the situation will be monitored over several days to determine the severity. “When you see that, it’s a sickening feeling for all of us. So we’re keeping our fingers crossed, and hopefully we get some good news out of this. But I’m concerned.”

Freeland had batted in the top of the third -- his first plate appearance of the spring -- and lined out to deep left. Black said that from his conversation with Freeland, the swing had nothing to do with the pain, and there were no warning signs of an injury.

“He’s been great all spring as far as hitting all his markers to get ready for the season,” Black said. “Every side session, every batting practice, he’s made his starts and his side sessions in between his starts -- no indication at all that this possibly could happen.”

The way the rotation lines up, Freeland’s turn would come up for the regular season’s second game, April 2 against the Dodgers at Coors Field.

A Denver native, Freeland has had one of the most productive beginnings of his career since debuting in 2017. Freeland’s 4.17 ERA is third-lowest in franchise history for a pitcher with at least 75 starts, and his 50 ground-ball double plays since the start of 2018 leads the Majors. In 13 starts last season, Freeland was 2-3 with a 4.33 ERA. Overall, it was a nice bounce-back season for him.

In 2018, Freeland went 17-7 with a 2.85 ERA while helping the Rockies to a second straight postseason berth. He finished fourth in National League Cy Young Award voting to become just the second pitcher in club history to finish in the top five. Ubaldo Jiménez finished third in 2010.

But in 2019, Freeland battled location issues and injury and went 3-11 with a 6.73 ERA. Last year, he led the Majors by inducing 14 double-play grounders and had a sub 4.00 ERA until a rough final start.

A couple of potential replacements pitched in a "B" game against the D-backs on Tuesday at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

Left-hander , the Rockies' No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline went three scoreless innings and gave up one hit and one walk and hit a batter. Right-hander threw two innings with no runs, hits or walks and three strikeouts.

González, who has pitched with Colorado the past two seasons, has been solid in Cactus League play (2-0, 3.72 ERA in four games, three starts). Rolison was sent to Minor League camp recently.

“We’ll talk about all this stuff later,” Black said. “I’m thinking about Kyle now. We’re going to assess this and see where we are.”

Righty , who has been optioned to Minor League camp, went one scoreless inning, struck out two and gave up one hit and no walks in the "B" game. Santos figures to be part of the rotation depth.

Oberg keeps progressing
Righty , coming back from blood clotting in his right arm that has kept him out of regular-season action since 2019, has had four scoreless outings in camp, the latest a perfect inning against the Rangers on Monday.

Oberg had three days off after his first game, and two days off after his second and third outings. Black said Oberg is trending positively physically.

“Yesterday, it was clean, maybe not as crisp as he was the previous couple [outings] to our critical eye,” Black said. “But yet he put up a scoreless inning in a Cactus League game.

“We like where he is physically. And mentally, it’s important for Scotty to feel good about his arm and everything that has gone on with him -- his circulation, his surgery and all the things we’re on top of with Scott. He’s confident.”