Rockies' youth getting chance to prove worth
NEW YORK -- This hasn't been an easy road trip for the Rockies. Aside from scuffling through Atlanta, Pittsburgh and New York, Colorado has suffered some significant injuries.
All-Star left fielder Carlos Gonzalez, who was hitting .302 with 26 home runs and 70 RBIs, was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday because of his sprained right middle finger. Then the Rockies had to place pitcher Tyler Chatwood, who was 7-4 with a 3.15 ERA in 15 starts, on the DL with inflammation in his right elbow.
And Todd Helton's balky back continues to be something manager Walt Weiss has to make sure to monitor, especially after Helton tweaked it while pinch-hitting Saturday in Pittsburgh.
So on Thursday, Weiss had to run out a young lineup against the Mets. Six of the Rockies' starters, including pitcher Jeff Manship, spent significant time in the Minor Leagues at some point this season. Right fielder Charlie Blackmon, second baseman DJ LeMahieu, center fielder Corey Dickerson, third baseman Nolan Arenado and left fielder Charlie Culberson have all spent time with Triple-A Colorado Springs.
Dickerson got the Rockies started Thursday with a solo home run in the fourth inning, his second of the season.
"That's going to happen at times over the course of a season," Weiss said. "We're going out there with some young fresh legs. We've been getting beat up a little bit here on this trip in particular. Guys are grinding, and we need to go home and play well."
Weiss also said he ran his fresh legs out on the field Thursday because he wanted some of his regulars -- like shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and center fielder Dexter Fowler -- to rest before getting back to Coors Field.
Entering Thursday's game, the Rockies were 1-8 on their current road trip. The schedule doesn't get much easier anytime soon. Colorado plays the Pirates again this weekend in Denver, then after a series against San Diego, the Rockies head back on the road for another three-city, 10-game road trip.
But Weiss said this is an opportunity for the younger players. They have a chance to show they belong in the Major Leagues, and it's an opportunity they need to take advantage of through the end of the season.
"All those guys have performed well at the Triple-A level. I'm interested in seeing them perform up here," Weiss said." There's going to be some opportunities, especially with some guys banged up. That's how a lot of big league careers get started."
Weiss said the team also has a good mix of veterans they can learn from. Despite the struggles the Rockies have run into lately, Weiss said he still likes the way the team has competed. He said they're trying to build off some of the positive things that happened in the first half and continue to move in that direction.
Times are tough right now with ample injuries, a sputtering offense and disappointing losses. But Weiss said there are positive signs.
"I feel like they're grinding through some tough stuff right now," Weiss said. "There's an element of our club that's pretty youthful, and some of that is showing up. But there's a lot of talent that goes along with that to be excited about."