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Rockies finalize Opening Day 25-man roster

March 29, 2018

PHOENIX -- The Rockies released their Opening Day roster hours before Thursday night's game against the D-backs at Chase Field. It offers depth, as well as playing-time challenges -- most notably involving prospect Ryan McMahon -- that manager Bud Black welcomes.Here is the roster:Starting pitchers (5, in order of scheduled

PHOENIX -- The Rockies released their Opening Day roster hours before Thursday night's game against the D-backs at Chase Field. It offers depth, as well as playing-time challenges -- most notably involving prospect Ryan McMahon -- that manager Bud Black welcomes.
Here is the roster:
Starting pitchers (5, in order of scheduled starts): RHP Jon Gray (Thursday), LHP Tyler Anderson (Friday), RHP German Marquez (Saturday), RHP Chad Bettis (Monday at San Diego), LHP Kyle Freeland (Tuesday).
Relief pitchers (8): RHP Wade Davis (closer), LHP Jake McGee, RHP Bryan Shaw, RHP Adam Ottavino, LHP Mike Dunn, RHP Scott Oberg, LHP Chris Rusin, RHP Antonio Senzatela.
Catchers (2):Chris Iannetta, Tony Wolters.
Infielders (6): 1B Ian Desmond, 2B DJ LeMahieu, 3B Nolan Arenado, SS Trevor Story, utility Pat Valaika, 1B/utility Ryan McMahon.
Outfielders (4): LF Gerardo Parra, CF Charlie Blackmon, RF Carlos Gonzalez, UTL Mike Tauchman.
10-day disabled list (3): RHP Carlos Estevez (right oblique), RHP Jeff Hoffman (right shoulder inflammation), LHP Zachary Rosscup (left middle finger blister).
60-day disabled list (1): RHP Rayan Gonzalez (right elbow surgery)
Valaika, a right-handed power pinch-hitter who plays all four infield positions, and Tauchman, a lefty hitter with speed who can play all three outfield positions, have demonstrated skill sets that play well off a National League bench, but Black will have to give them occasional starts to keep them sharp. McMahon is a bit more of a challenge.
McMahon, the Rockies' No. 2 prospect and the No. 41 prospect in the Majors per MLB Pipeline, has the potential to add left-handed power to the regular lineup, but he needs to play enough to justify keeping him instead of sending him to Triple-A Albuquerque.
"He produced really well in the Minor Leagues with that bat," Black said. "Time will tell how he does in the Major Leagues. We'll find that out over time. I'm not sure there's a rush to find that out right away.
"We're going to use them all. … Ryan will be a part of that mix of 12 [position players], so I'm looking forward to watch 'Mac' and his career unfold. I think he's going to have a long career. He's young. This is a good step for him, making an Opening Day roster."
Desmond, who is paid $22 million and has a track record as a key member of the lineup (he went to the disabled list three times last season, so the Rockies haven't seen his full benefit), will likely have to move to left field when McMahon starts. Parra can operate from the bench on those days, or spell Gonzalez occasionally.
So there are paths to play McMahon, but all those movements have to be balanced against opportunities for Valaika and Tauchman.
But Black looks at this as not just a good problem, but not a problem. He explained to left-handed hitters David Dahl and Raimel Tapia -- two players long seen as part of the club's future -- that Albuquerque was where they fit best to start the season, but that they're still important to the Rockies. The Rockies are trying to maximize depth over a long season.
"We really like the versatility that Ian has, and Parra and Mac and Valaika, and Tauchman can play all three outfield positions," Black said. "Even Tony Wolters in a pinch can go to the infield. The versatility that our guys bring is an advantage for us once the game starts."
Solid base
Before being called up for his attention-grabbing pinch-hitting last season (.328, eight doubles, four homers, 16 RBIs in 58 at-bats), Valaika had 50 plate appearances over 11 games at Triple-A Albuquerque. This spring, Valaika sustained a left oblique injury in late February and didn't reappear until March 18.
But Valaika's 21 at-bats in eight Cactus League games, and more on the back fields, have him feeling ready for the sporadic opportunities he'll receive as a righty off the bench.

"It was good toward that last week to play a lot, and even go to the Minor Leagues and get six at-bats a game," Valaika said. "Last year, it was good starting off in Albuquerque. I got at-bats."
He'll be prepared
The Rockies entered Spring Training with seven possible starting pitchers and kept six. The other, Hoffman, had right shoulder inflammation after two appearances and was shut down. On Saturday, Hoffman will throw his second bullpen session since the injury. When he is ready, he believes he'll be prepared to help the club.
Hoffman's importance is rooted in the fact that beyond the five pitchers in the rotation and Senzatela, he is the only starter in the organization who has been in a Major League game.

"Spotting the fastball is my key -- I think it's everybody's key," said Hoffman, who was 6-5 with a 5.89 ERA in 23 games (16 starts) during an up-and-down rookie 2017 season. "I felt I did a good job of that early in spring, so it was frustrating going down. But after that, it's keeping the offspeed on the white -- not east and west, but north and south. That's when I'm at my best.
"But that's just a refinement. When you're looking at tools, I feel I have them all in my arsenal, I just need to get them to the point where they're all competitive."

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