Rodgers, Freeland hit comeback trail running

May 14th, 2021

After going down with a hamstring injury during Spring Training, Rockies second baseman Brendan Rodgers will begin his rehab assignment Friday.

Rodgers will start and play second base for Triple-A Albuquerque, Rockies manager Bud Black said during a pregame media conference Thursday.

Black said that the most important benchmark for the rookie as he begins his rehab assignment will be getting back into the flow of the game.

“I think he's got to get game stamina,” he said. “[A] game feeling that you can come into a big league game and you're totally ready to go as far as endurance ... concentration level [and] conditioning. And to see pitches and to see live pitching and to see competitive fastballs and competitive breaking balls. No timeline, but he's in a really good spot and we'll get that underway [Friday].”

Before going down with the hamstring injury during Cactus League play, Rodgers was slashing .348/.400/.652 with two homers and five RBIs over 23 at-bats. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, Rodgers debuted for the Rockies in '19 and he has since hit .196 in 97 big league at-bats spanning the past two seasons.

Freeland working his way back

With Kyle Freeland starting for Albuquerque on Saturday, Black said that the southpaw will be assessed after he makes his start. Freeland could see his workload increase incrementally as he works his way back to Colorado after going down with a left shoulder strain during Spring Training.

The Rockies' skipper also added that it will be important for Freeland to throw well to work through any mental obstacles that he may face.

Black said that Freeland could make a second start next Thursday for Albuquerque.

“[Freeland’s] built up and we feel good about it, and [his] arm feels great,” Black said. “You know, that's the most important thing is his health, and along the way, he's felt confident in where he is physically and mentally, which is also a big hurdle to overcome. It's how you feel mentally about your arm and he's in a really good spot.”

Helton headed to National College Baseball HOF

On Thursday, the College Baseball Foundation announced Rockies great Todd Helton as one of the 14 inductees into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame class for 2021. Helton had a storied career as a two-way player at the University of Tennessee, where he holds program records in home runs (38), RBIs (238), walks (147) and saves (23).

He was a two-time first-team All-American (1994 and ‘95) and was named the '95 National Player of the Year by the American Baseball Coaches Association, as well the SEC Player of the Year.

The virtual induction ceremony will be held on June 26.

Other injury news

• First baseman C.J. Cron (lower back strain) got in pregame work on the field ahead of Thursday’s game against the Reds. Black said that Cron was not quite ready to take swings, but that the first baseman could get cage work in over the next couple of days.

• Pitcher Carlos Estévez (finger) will continue playing catch as he progresses. He was able to do so Wednesday without the strained finger on his throwing hand bothering him. Estévez could throw a bullpen session in the next few days depending on his progress from the next time that he throws long toss.

• Utility man Chris Owings (sprained left thumb) is “still a ways away,” according to Black. The Rockies' skipper added that the most recent X-ray results from Owings showed progress from the injury. Owings was moved from the 10-day IL to the 60-day IL on April 18.