Weiss buoyed as pitchers & catchers report

Reyes uncertainty hovers over Spring Training start

February 17th, 2016

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies manager Walt Weiss greeted pitchers and catchers on Wednesday's Spring Training reporting date, but when he'll see shortstop Jose Reyes is anyone's guess.

Reyes was arrested Oct. 31 in Hawaii on a domestic-violence charge. He faces a hearing before MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, who could issue discipline that includes a suspension. However, MLB said Wednesday there is no timetable and it continues to track the case. Reyes also is scheduled for a trial on Opening Day, April 4.

Rockies Spring Training info

Will Reyes report to Spring Training with Rockies position players Tuesday? Yankees reliever Aroldis Chapman, who faces a similar situation, has reported with his team's pitchers and catchers, so there is nothing stopping Reyes.

Who will be the shortstop if Reyes is suspended? How much contact will the Rockies have with Reyes, considering that the case is solely in the league's hands?

"It's kind of a tough situation with the legal implications and everything," Weiss said. "You've got to tread lightly. So I don't really know exactly all the details.

"It's been tough because of the legal implications. We texted around the holidays. But there's really not a protocol in place for something like this. It's been a little tough for me from that perspective."

But enough with the downers.

"Pitchers and catchers report" are a magic four words, and formal workouts begin Friday. Weiss enters his fourth year trying to piece together a winner. Although he faces rotation uncertainty, as he always has, he believes he has potential in the rotation, that the team has built a solid bullpen that gives him options, and even shortstop can be a positive.

For example:

• Lefty Jorge De La Rosa and righty Chad Bettis are the solid pieces of the rotation, but Weiss is excited about the returning experience of righties Jordan Lyles (out most of last season because of right foot surgery) and Tyler Chatwood (out since early 2014 with Tommy John surgery). He also wants to see how rookie Jon Gray (on a tight innings limit during a late-season trial last season) handles being turned loose.

"We've had to deal with injuries over the last few years with our starting rotation, hoping we catch a break in that area this year," Weiss said. "Some things have to line up. Some things have to fall into place. But I like the type of guys that we have. I'm excited about Chad Bettis and where he's at, where he's heading. Jorge has been good for us for a long time. He's been a workhorse. There are some things to be excited about. There are kids on the way."

• The Rockies added former Cardinals closer Jason Motte, as well as veteran righty Chad Qualls and lefty Jake McGee. Weiss also has several younger righties -- Jairo Diaz, Justin Miller, Scott Oberg and Miguel Castro -- who could pitch late in games. In fact, Weiss hasn't decided if he'll have a set closer; more important, he's OK with that.

"I'm not sure as I sit here today if we're going to break camp and I'm going to name a closer," he said. "I want to see how the pieces fit together. I want to see how we can put together a back end of the game and what those pieces look like before I start declaring roles at this point. We do have some flexibility, because we do have some guys that have done it -- some guys at the Minor League level, some guys at the Major League level."

• If Trevor Story, a first-round pick (45th overall in 2011), is deserving of the shortstop job out of the gate, there is no plan to put him in the Minors to hold down his service time to prevent him from reaching arbitration after his second year -- as far as Weiss knows. That decision, however, comes from above him.

It's often done with hot prospects -- Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant comes to mind. The Rockies started 2013 with third baseman Nolan Arenado in Triple-A, but called him up early and this year paid him $5 million to avoid arbitration as a Super 2 (arbitration eligible despite having fewer than three years' service time).

"There will be some open competition if Jose is not here," Weiss said. "That's a good thing, that's always a good thing, but as far as the service-time stuff, I don't think that's going to play into it."

• This is a fresh chance for two first-rounders -- lefty Tyler Matzek, who struggled with performance anxiety and made just five Major League starts, and righty Eddie Butler, who didn't make the most of his big-league chances and finished the year in Triple-A.

"That is what's fun about Spring Training as you watch some of these things unfold," Weiss said. "I come in without a level of expectation with some of these guys.

"Of course, you have to perform, especially when you're trying to earn a spot. But I'm just coming in with an open mind to watch these guys compete."