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Marquez banking on revamped changeup

Rockies right-hander struggles against Dodgers; Parra returns to action; McMahon continues hot hitting
March 11, 2018

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Recently, by his locker in the Rockies' clubhouse, right-hander German Marquez revealed that he doesn't want to be just a name to fill out the starting rotation."That's my goal, be a No. 1 pitcher," Marquez said. "Do it right, help the team win."To do that, he can't

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Recently, by his locker in the Rockies' clubhouse, right-hander German Marquez revealed that he doesn't want to be just a name to fill out the starting rotation.
"That's my goal, be a No. 1 pitcher," Marquez said. "Do it right, help the team win."
To do that, he can't have many performances like Sunday's, when the Dodgers tagged him for nine hits and eight runs in 2 2/3 innings of a 13-7 Cactus League loss at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
After a Major League rookie-best 11 wins last season, an encouraged Marquez devoted the offseason to developing a changeup to go with his fastball, curveball and slider.
"I worked really hard on the changeup," Marquez said. "I need to be able to use that pitch in a game. When I got here, my changeup was located well. Every bullpen, every outing, it's getting better."
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Before Sunday, he had a 1.80 ERA in five Cactus League innings. But he gave up five extra-base hits -- three doubles and Matt Kemp's leadoff homer in the third. And because he couldn't locate the fastball down in the zone, the changeup never really came into play.
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"From the beginning, I felt like my fastball was a little up, and I was being quick [in the delivery] from the front," Marquez said.
But soon, all that happened in Spring Training will be forgotten, and Marquez will be looking to carry the lessons of 2017 into a new season and beyond.
"My long-term visual is longtime starter, and successful in the big leagues," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "I can see it in his delivery and work habits. I see it in his aptitude. You combine all this with his stuff -- mid-90s fastball, really good breaking ball, developing change -- it definitely plays as a top-of-the-rotation pitcher."

Black saw Marquez developing from a thrower to a pitcher last season.
"There was more poise as the season went along, in the dugout, on the mound," Black said. "First half, maybe at times a little emotional. That might've affected some pitches in some outings. He's come a long way in a short period of time."
Iannetta solid
Catcher Chris Iannetta's two-run shot in the second was his third spring homer.

"His swing path looks great, his timing looks on, he looks very comfortable at the plate," Black said.
Parra is back
Outfielder Gerardo Parra, who has recovered from Feb. 9 right hand hamate surgery, went 0-for-1 with a walk and reached on an error in his Cactus League debut.
Position competition
Ryan McMahon, trying to make the Opening Day roster and make regular starts at first base, did not start Sunday, but he doubled in the sixth off righty Wilmer Font. McMahon is hitting .375 this spring and his hard contact is increasing.
With right fielder Carlos Gonzalez's signing going official at any moment, McMahon has gone from a clear opportunity at first base to, most likely, sharing spring at-bats with Ian Desmond. McMahon can earn his chance by performing well against Major League pitching.
To the backfields
The arrival of Minor Leaguers means more opportunity for Major League players to use their games for extra work, since they can bat in each inning should they choose. Desmond, who is 1-for-22 with eight strikeouts in eight games, plans to take advantage as he works on his hand positioning in his stance.
"Every year is different," Desmond said. "This year, I plan on doing it. Last year I didn't do it. I've done it in the past. It's a nice thing to have."
Prospect look
Lefty Sam Howard (the Rockies' No. 17 prospect, per MLB Pipeline) fanned four and held the Dodgers to two hits in three scoreless innings.

Up top
With Gonzalez set to return to a run-producing spot in the lineup when he's ready, Charlie Blackmon moved to his old spot -- leadoff -- and went 0-for-3 with a strikeout.
Injury update
• Infielder Pat Valaika (left oblique), the team's main righty pinch-hitter last year, has a chance to return for the Opening Day roster, but Black said he is not near game ready. Valaika set a Major League rookie record (since the rookie rule became official in 1958) with 16 pinch-hit RBIs last year.
• Black said righty Carlos Estevez (left oblique) is making progress and could soon return to Cactus League games. He has made just one appearance so far this spring.
• Reliever Rayan Gonzalez, a prospect who underwent Tommy John surgery last spring, has had one bullpen session off a mound. The athletic training staff will monitor him closely.
Up next
Righty Chad Bettis, whose last outing was three innings in a B game against the Angels, will face the D-backs -- for the second time this spring -- on Monday at 2:10 p.m. MT. Righty Antonio Senzatela, trying to win a rotation spot, is also scheduled to pitch.

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