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Dahl, Tapia praise CarGo for his guidance

Gonzalez has helped young outfielders learn the big league ropes
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

PHOENIX -- Rockies left-handed-hitting outfielders David Dahl and Raimel Tapia have more than Major League-quality tools and Minor League accomplishments in common. They have the blessing of Carlos Gonzalez.

When each received his first Major League callup in 2016, and during Tapia's six trips up from Triple-A Albuquerque last season, Gonzalez was there encouraging them.

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PHOENIX -- Rockies left-handed-hitting outfielders David Dahl and Raimel Tapia have more than Major League-quality tools and Minor League accomplishments in common. They have the blessing of Carlos Gonzalez.

When each received his first Major League callup in 2016, and during Tapia's six trips up from Triple-A Albuquerque last season, Gonzalez was there encouraging them.

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Of course, Gonzalez has made making the 2018 Opening Day a little harder for both. Gonzalez was at the Rockies' complex Saturday taking a physical necessary to complete the one-year deal he agreed to Friday. But they have the same response to the mention of CarGo: They smile.

"He helped me when I came up, told me to be myself and eased me in," Dahl said. "It was very reassuring. He said I reminded him of a younger him. I thought that was pretty cool."

Tapia, who went 1-for-3 in the Rockies' 9-2 loss to the Brewers on Saturday, said Gonzalez reached out to him during his transition to right field at Coors.

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"He would work with me in the outfield, say, 'You're the best. You're the best,'" Tapia said. "I am happy he is here. With CarGo here, there's more opportunity for the playoffs."

Tapia gained experience in a bench role last year, often pinch-hitting and pinch-running. After a slow start, he finished with a .288 overall average and .329 on-base percentage, plus five steals, in 70 games. Tapia came off the bench in the National League Wild Card Game.

Mike Tauchman, another lefty hitter, also filled that role late last season with the Rockies. Others whose talents could be of use are right-handed-hitting outfielder Noel Cuevas and lefty-hitting outfielder-first baseman Jordan Patterson. Although Tapia was a regular in the Minors, he doesn't mind the bench role if available.

"I'm ready for pinch-hit, run the base or for defense, because I have confidence and I'm working hard," Tapia said.

Video: COL@LAA: Tapia runs down a fly ball at the track

Dahl was the team's top pick in 2012, and has been groomed to bring power and speed to the lineup. He said he anticipated being sent to Triple-A for regular time, although he demonstrated off-the-bench skill with a seventh-inning, two-run triple on Saturday.

After an 0-for-15 Cactus League start, Dahl has gone 8-for-23 (.348) with three homers over his past eight games.

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"I don't know if that's what they want me to do; starting or probably going to Triple-A is my guess," said Dahl, who hit a two-run homer Friday. "But I can do what they want me to do.

"My swing feels a lot closer. I'm swinging at better pitches and taking some of the borderline ones."

Looks aren't always deceiving

Just one of the four runs the Brewers scored in three innings off lefty starter Tyler Anderson was earned. But Anderson, who gave up five hits, acknowledged he didn't pitch well. Shortstop Brendan Rodgers' error helped increase the first-inning pitch count to the high 30s. Then Anderson was back on the mound after a quick top of the second.

"It was like going out for a jog and trying to run five or six miles, when you only meant to run one," he said. "I made a lot of bad pitches that were up, and it's a pretty good offense. Sometimes there were flares that found spots, some were barrels that found spots."

Back to the lab

The Rockies sent seven players, mostly prospects, to Minor League camp: righty pitchers Peter Lambert (the organization's No. 5 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline), Jesus Tinoco (No. 14) and Zach Jemiola, catchers Dom Nunez (No. 22) and Chris Rabago, and outfielders Sam Hilliard (No. 12) and Yonathan Daza (No. 20).

Injury update

Righty reliever Carlos Estevez, who has been limited to one appearance because of a left oblique injury, threw 15 fastballs Friday -- his first session off the mound since the injury.

Video: SF@COL: Estevez fans Pence to strand two runners

Up next

Outfielder Gerardo Parra, who underwent right hand surgery on Feb. 9 for a broken hamate bone, is set for his Spring Training debut on Sunday against the Dodgers at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick at 2:10 p.m. MT. Righty German Marquez will start. The game can be seen on MLB.TV or heard on Gameday Audio.

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

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