Rockies will be careful not to rush Rodgers

December 16th, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- If infielder and top Rockies prospect Brendan Rodgers is not ready for the start of Spring Training and not available to start the regular season because of the right shoulder labrum surgery that ended his 2019 campaign, it's not the end of the world.

The warning on the back side is clear: Rushing back could have extreme consequences.

Rodgers, the team's No. 1 prospect and the overall No. 14 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, debuted May 17 after standout work at Triple-A Albuquerque and hit .224 with no home runs and seven RBIs in 25 Major League games over two stints. However, he attempted to play through shoulder pain that materialized after his debut. On June 24, Rodgers felt pain in the shoulder while making a throw during a game at Dodger Stadium, and after attempting rehab, he underwent surgery on July 16.

"We're hopeful that he's ready to go but it was a pretty legitimate shoulder surgery, so we're not going to act irresponsibly," Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich said Tuesday at the Winter Meetings. "We're going to make sure that he's healthy. It's too early to tell right now. To answer that question, I think both of the scenarios are possibilities. We have to let some more rehab time pass here."

Mainly because of the injury, Rodgers was never able to show the electric bat that produced a .350 batting average, .413 on-base percentage, nine home runs and 21 RBIs in his 37 Triple-A games. He started slowly -- .245 with two homers in his first 14 games -- before catching fire and earning his promotion.

Having seen what a healthy Rodgers can do, the Rockies don't want to see the compromised version.

"He has listened to our medical folks in that, 'Look, if you screw this up, and are rash in your thinking and your actions on this, there's a chance that you don't recover well,'" Bridich said. "So setbacks due to poor decision making are unacceptable.

"He's been great. To this point, Doogie [head athletic trainer Keith Dugger] and the guys have said he's been exactly the type of patient and rehabber that they're looking for, which is great. You know, young guy, a lot of times, you get impatient."

Catching update: The Rockies have been reaching out this week to free-agent catchers who they believe can be paired with left-handed-hitting Tony Wolters. Multiple people with knowledge said that the Rockies had at least talked to Austin RomineMatt Wieters and Robinson Chirinos, and were expected to approach others. Veterans Russell Martin and Nick Hundley (once with the Rockies), however, were not believed to be on Colorado's list.

As Bridich has acknowledged previously, the Rockies are looking at veteran Drew Butera, who has seen spot duty the past two years. Butera likely would receive a Minor League deal from the club.

Gausman's riches come from elsewhere: Denver native Kevin Gausman, a right-hander, signed a one-year, $9 million contract with the Giants on Tuesday. Bridich said the Rockies, whose payroll budget dictates that their rotation consists of homegrown players or those acquired before they reached the Majors, checked in.

"He was not a guy that we were all that fully engaged with," Bridich said. "We figured out that, and you could see in terms of the contract, that we weren't going to be in play with that. We have other higher needs and priorities, I think.

"We like him. The whole Denver thing matters. And it's not just Denver. It's altitude. People forget Jorge De La Rosa, where he was born and raised in Mexico [that's] all altitude. It can help -- Kyle Freeland, and the confidence and all of that. It just wasn't a fit this year."