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Arenado electric after basketball contest win

Lambert impresses in first start; McMahon continues 'great spring'
March 15, 2019

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When the game’s on the line, it’s time for Nolan Arenado -- even if it’s another game (basketball) with the other hand (left). And the boundless joy is the same.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When the game’s on the line, it’s time for Nolan Arenado -- even if it’s another game (basketball) with the other hand (left). And the boundless joy is the same.

Manager Bud Black split the Rockies into teams for a basketball contest, involving shots from various spots on a court, set up by the loading dock at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Arenado was the last shooter for his team -- Trevor Story, Yency Almonte and Tom Murphy -- and the game went down to the last shot, one from beyond the NBA's three-point distance for the win.

The celebration was wild.

“My first couple of shots were pretty brutal, I guess you can blame it on the wind,” said Arenado, who ruined the day of the other team -- Kyle Freeland, Chris Rusin, Matt Pierpont and Jeff Hoffman. “It was definitely a little weird out there, with the wind. But right when I threw it up from deep I knew it was going in.

“I was getting fired up and I heard a lot of trash talk every time I was shooting. But it was a lot of fun out there. I like to win, so I was happy about that.”

Of his lefty basketball form, Arenado said, “I grew up doing it. It’s kind of weird. It’s not very good, but it kind of works, so I keep doing it.”

Arenado’s celebration was a reminder of his Father’s Day 2017, when he knocked a three-run walk-off homer to beat the Giants and complete a cycle.

Manager Bud Black said, laughing, “That’s what legends are made of.”

On-stage test

Peter Lambert, the Rockies' No. 4 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, made his first Cactus League start on Thursday, in the squad's 2-1 victory over the Royals. The right-hander, who turns 22 on April 18, was impressive in the outing, allowing one unearned run on three hits, walking none and striking out two over 3 2/3 innings.

Lambert mixed a fastball, his signature changeup and a curve to keep hitters off-balance.

“Things got away from me a little bit in the fourth inning, but other than that I was happy with my performance,” he said.

A second-round pick in 2015, Lambert made it to Triple-A Albuquerque last season, but still has more to learn.

“It was a good outing -- the only thing critical is not real efficient,” Black said of his 69-pitch appearance. “But on the positive side, he got his workout in. The pitch count got up. He’s doing fine.”

Ry-Mac’s solid spring

Sophomore second baseman Ryan McMahon went the distance in the matchup, and delivered two of the team’s four hits -- including a game-winning, bases-loaded single in the ninth.

“He’s had a great spring,” Black said. “I really like the way Mac is playing. It’s exciting. There’s growth.”

Bullpen diaries

• With lefty Chris Rusin’s availability for Opening Day questionable because of upper-back discomfort, right-hander DJ Johnson is making his case for a spot. Friday, the Rockies removed Lambert with two out and two on in the fourth. Johnson, whose best attributes are diversity and hitting spots, balanced a fastball and curve, then froze Bubba Starling with a 94.8 mph fastball. Johnson has thrown 6 2/3 scoreless innings this spring.

• It was another spotless performance for lefty Mike Dunn, who was hampered last season by an A/C joint injury that required surgery. He fanned two batters in the fifth, and improved his spring total to nine strikeouts -- against two hits and no walks -- in six innings.

• Righty Bryan Shaw’s gradual improvement continued with a scoreless sixth. He thought he had strike three against Jorge Soler, but came back to fan Cheslor Cuthbert. Shaw’s cutter, often 93 mph and above, climbed to 92 mph.

Away from the big stage

• Righty German Marquez struck out 10 in six innings in a Minor League game against the D-backs on Thursday.

• Lefty Tyler Anderson pitched five innings and allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits, including a home run. He struck out one and walked one.

Nagging pains of spring

• Righty Antonio Senzatela, a starter-type trying to force his way onto the roster, is out with an infected blister on his right heel.

• Second baseman Garrett Hampson has not played since last Saturday because of soreness at the bottom of his right hamstring, behind his knee. Hampson said his sitting out is precautionary, and he expects to start Saturday.

• Catcher Tony Wolters, who has had stomach and upper-respiratory illnesses this spring, played defensively in a Cactus League game for the first time since March 6. But he actually was working for the second straight day, after catching Marquez’s Minor League game on Thursday.

Up next

Righty Jon Gray will start against the Brewers on Saturday at American Family Fields of Phoenix, matching up against Milwaukee's Opening Day starter, Jhoulys Chacin. First pitch is set for 2:05 p.m. MDT.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.