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Spring Training could shake up lineup, rotation

MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- All it takes during Spring Training for the following to be rendered obsolete (with the first workout for pitchers and catchers set for Friday) is an injury no one wants but must prepare for, a surprise camp performance everyone wants or a surprise move. Last year's shocker was the Rockies releasing right-handed pitcher Jhoulys Chacin in the middle of his comeback from a shoulder injury.

This lineup projection is shaky to begin with for many reasons:

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- All it takes during Spring Training for the following to be rendered obsolete (with the first workout for pitchers and catchers set for Friday) is an injury no one wants but must prepare for, a surprise camp performance everyone wants or a surprise move. Last year's shocker was the Rockies releasing right-handed pitcher Jhoulys Chacin in the middle of his comeback from a shoulder injury.

This lineup projection is shaky to begin with for many reasons:

Spring Training: Schedule | Tickets | Information

1. At least nine pitchers are competing for the five rotation spots, and only three are considered sure things, barring injury.

2. Assuming shortstop Jose Reyes receives a suspension for his offseason domestic violence arrest, his stand-in could be prospect Trevor Story, but it also could be farm system product Cristhian Adames or veteran utility infielder Daniel Descalso.

Comeback candidates | Newcomers | Prospects to watch | Rotation battles

3. A platoon of left-handed-hitting Ben Paulsen and righty-swinging free-agent signee Mark Reynolds (one year, $2.6 million) makes sense at first base, but manager Walt Weiss will play a hot hitter over matchups.

4. The No. 2 spot in the order bears watching, assuming Reyes isn't available for that role. Second baseman DJ LeMahieu and left fielder Gerardo Parra (three years, $27.5 million) hit for high average and have worked at-bats the way a No. 2 hitter should, but both are notably better lower in the order. LeMahieu has a respectable career .681 OPS hitting second, but the number is .783 at No. 7 and .748 at No. 8, and LeMahieu struggled in some hit-and-run situations last season. Parra has a career .719 OPS at No. 2 but is at .733 at No. 8 and .793 at No. 6.

Video: Outlook: Parra has defense to go with moderate pop

5. Weiss and general manager Jeff Bridich have built a bullpen of versatile relievers. The Rockies have left open the possibility that the ninth inning will depend upon matchups and workloads rather than a traditional closer.

All that said, here is the Rockies' projection:

2015 record
68-94, fifth in the National League West

Projected batting order
1. CF Charlie Blackmon:
.287 BA, .347 OBP, .450 SLG, 17 HR, 58 RBI, 43 SB in 2015
2. SS LeMahieu:
.301 BA, .358 OBP, .388 SLG, 6 HR, 61 RBI in 2015
3. RF Carlos Gonzalez:
.271 BA, .325 OBP, .540 SLG, 40 HR, 97 RBI in 2015
4. 3B Nolan Arenado:
.287 BA, .323 OBP, .575 SLG, 42 HR, 130 RBI in 2015
5. LF Parra:
.291 BA, .328 OBP, .452 SLG, 14 HR, 51 RBI in 2015
6. C Nick Hundley:
.301 BA, .339 OBP, .467 SLG, 10 HR, 43 RBI in 2015
7. 1B Paulsen:
.277 BA, .326 OBP, .462 SLG, 11 HR, 49 RBI in 2015
8. SS Story:
.279 BA, .350 OBP, .514 SLG, 20 HR, 80 RBI in Double-A and Triple A in 2015

Projected rotation
1. LHP Jorge De La Rosa, 9-7, 4.17 ERA in 2015
2. RHP Chad Bettis, 8-6, 4.23 ERA in 2015
3. RHP Jordan Lyles, 2-5, 5.14 ERA in 2015
4. RHP Tyler Chatwood, Did not pitch in 2015
5. RHP Jon Gray, 0-2, 5.53 ERA in 2015

Projected bullpen
Closer: RHP Jason Motte, 8-1, 6/7 saves, 3.91 ERA in 2015
RH setup man: Chad Qualls, 4.38 ERA in 2015
LH setup man: Jake McGee, 2.41 ERA in 2015

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies