SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- We did it at the start of Spring Training and we’re doing it again in the middle of camp: predicting the Rockies’ Opening Day roster. Only there is a little twist.
Nothing has changed from our pre-camp predictions, for two reasons:
• There have been no injuries that threaten anyone’s availability. The Rockies are knocking on the sturdy wood of their palace at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick over that one.
• There are places where a player is turning heads, but all of those situations involve a veteran with a track record.
What has changed: Tom Murphy is off to a solid offensive start, has a deep Minor League history with the starting pitching staff and has some thunder in his bat. He’s also out of Minor League options, which means he would have to be exposed to waivers to be sent down. With Iannetta turning 36 in April and Wolters with options, Murphy could win regular duty, stick as a backup or deal with the uncertainty of waivers.
What has changed: Pat Valaika has three Cactus League home runs and is showing signs of the stroke that he used to become the National League’s most accomplished rookie pinch-hitter in 2017. Valaika also plays all four infield positions and can give a credible game in the outfield. Reynolds, a non-roster invitee, has started slowly, but he has deep experience, is a viable starter should an injury occur and will devote the latter part of the spring to testing his pinch-hit routine.
What has changed: This duo has made the Rockies breathe easier about replacing longtime star DJ LeMahieu, who signed with the Yankees as a free agent. The left-handed-hitting McMahon and right-handed-hitting Hampson have played well at the plate and in the field, and manager Bud Black is keeping them fresh at other positions -- McMahon at first and third, Hampson at second base, third, shortstop and center field. If they hold up, starts could come based on the hot hand or matchups, but either would be useful off the bench.
Third base (1): Nolan Arenado
What has changed: Eight years and $260 million, thanks to a new contract. McMahon or Hampson could move there should Arenado ever need a day off.
Shortstop (1): Trevor Story
What has changed: With LeMahieu gone, Story has to replace his leadership and toughness, as well as learn -- and teach -- the younger second basemen. A key at the position is Brendan Rodgers, the team’s No. 1 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. Rodgers isn’t having the knock-‘em-dead spring that would give him starts at second base, but he’s an important figure. Story has been the player the Rockies could least afford to lose because of his defense, but Rodgers has all the tools and needs to be ready if something were to happen.
Left field (1) David Dahl
He is embracing what the Rockies have envisioned all along, which is the expectation of replacing Carlos González as a consistent run producer.
What has changed: Desmond has made a full transition from first base and left field last year to center. Tapia, turning in better at-bats in situations that he’ll likely see during the regular season, could be used to rest Desmond, as well as the corner outfielders.
Right field (1): Charlie Blackmon
What has changed: The Rockies decided to move Blackmon out of center field in hopes of preserving his legs and getting power and production.
What has changed: Antonio Senzatela arrived ready to pitch, with a 2.25 ERA in his first two Cactus League outings. Bettis carried a 9.00 through two starts into Monday’s game against the Brewers. But keep in mind Bettis in past springs often skipped the early portion to work on his delivery, so tinkering early is nothing new. Bettis is adding a slider this year. It’s possible that Senzatela could push Bettis to the bullpen, but that could create a crowded situation.
What has changed: This was the earlier prediction, but the guy to watch is Carlos Estévez, who appears healthy -- with high velocity -- after not appearing in the Majors last season because of oblique and right elbow injuries. Estevez is out of Minor League options, so that will make for an interesting decision. Right-hander DJ Johnson is turning heads with his early work, and Yency Almonte and lefty Harrison Musgrave will be factors.
So let’s look at the 25:
LHP Kyle Freeland
RHP German Marquez
LHP Tyler Anderson
RHP Jon Gray
RHP Chad Bettis
RHP Wade Davis
LHP Mike Dunn
LHP Jake McGee
RHP Scott Oberg
RHP Seunghwan Oh
LHP Chris Rusin
RHP Antonio Senzatela
RHP Bryan Shaw