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Arenado willing to go a long way for a homer

Young hurlers Almonte, Howard show poise; Black to attend Towers service
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Nolan Arenado insisted on making the 45-minute drive across the Valley of the Sun. His homer off Reds lefty Cody Reed in the Rockies' 11-4 victory Saturday afternoon was the payoff.

"I'll drive days for a homer," Arenado said.

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Nolan Arenado insisted on making the 45-minute drive across the Valley of the Sun. His homer off Reds lefty Cody Reed in the Rockies' 11-4 victory Saturday afternoon was the payoff.

"I'll drive days for a homer," Arenado said.

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The Rockies had a reduced number of practice days between Monday's onset of full-squad workouts and Friday's start of Spring Training games. Left fielder Ian Desmond is expected to make his 2018 Cactus League debut Sunday, and Charlie Blackmon likely will wait until Monday.

No way is right or wrong for everyone.

"He goes, 'Buddy, I'd like to play the first two games,'" manager Bud Black said. "And I said, OK. All the questions that I would ask a player -- how are your legs, do you feel ready, physically are you in a good spot, mentally are you ready to go -- and he goes, 'Yeah, I'm ready.'"

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Arenado went 0-for-2 Friday against the D-backs and grounded out against Michael Lorenzen his first time up Saturday, before the homer.

"That's what I like to do, two on, one off," Arenado said. "That's just kind of what I like to feel to get the timing down a little more. I like to see how I feel the next day, see how my legs feel and go from there.

"Games are when you get your timing down, when you face pitchers that are throwing hard, like Lorenzen and Reed."

Getting their chances
Righty Yency Almonte, the Rockies' No. 10 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, struck out two and gave up a run on two hits while starting against the Reds. Lefty Sam Howard, the No. 12 prospect, pitched two scoreless innings with two strikeouts, one hit, two walks and a hit batsman.

Almonte, Howard, righty Zach Jemiola (two innings, one run, two hits and one walk Friday) and lefty Harrison Musgrave (scheduled for Monday) all appeared in Triple-A last year and hope to show Black that they are ready if needed.

Almonte gave up a soft, opposite-way double on a not-well-located pitch to Jesse Winker, which led to a first-inning run. But he finished a spotless second with strikeouts of Phil Gosselin and Aristedes Aquino.

"I was trying to control my composure, go out there and throw strikes," said Almonte, 23. "I got a little amped up, first start, but came out of it well."

Howard, who turns 25 on March 5, ended each inning with strikeouts -- Devin Mesoraco and Cliff Pennington -- with two on base.

"It's fun to get out there and face the big leaguers -- the guys that I'll hopefully be facing in Denver," Howard said. "There was no doubt in my mind I could get big leaguers out, but it's good to show people I can do it."

Black said, "They've got to keep going. We're going to keep giving them the ball."

Black to attend Towers service
Kevin Towers, the late former general manager who had a long career in the sport, hired Black as the Padres' manager before the 2007 season. Black will miss Sunday's game against the Rangers to attend a memorial at Petco Park for Towers, who died last month at age 56 after battling a rare form of thyroid cancer.

"Our relationship, for me, was, from the start, very easy," Black said. "We're the same age, our formative years were in the Northwest, we both pitched, so we had a lot in common from the get-go.

"In a lot of ways, sense of humor, what makes us tick, there were a lot of commonalities. Great competitor, team guy. A lot of the things I'd like to think that I am, he was."

Video: MLB Network, Rob Manfred remember Kevin Towers

Impressions

• After his homer from the leadoff spot Friday, Raimel Tapia followed with an RBI double Saturday. He also attempted to bunt for a hit to establish that he's willing to use speed.

• Outfield-first base hopeful Jordan Patterson doubled twice while going 3-for-3, Ryan McMahon went 2-for-3 with two RBIs in his bid to nail regular first-base duty, and outfield hopeful Mike Tauchman doubled, after tripling in the Cactus opener.

• Righty Jairo Diaz, trying to push into the bullpen, fanned two during a clean inning, and non-roster righty James Farris, who spent last year at Triple-A Albuquerque, struck out one in his scoreless frame.

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

Colorado Rockies, Nolan Arenado