SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Rockies know how good German Márquez is right now.
Their hope is that he gets even better in the future.
“There’s growth with every pitcher. You are never done,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “I had Greg Maddux at 41 years old and he was still learning and trying to get better. You are always trying to get better.
On Friday, Márquez was charged with two runs on three hits in three innings against the D-backs at Salt River Fields. He struck out three. So far this spring, he has allowed two runs on four hits in six innings. Márquez cruised through the first two innings before giving up all three hits, including back-to-back doubles, in the third.
“My arms feels good and my body feels good,” Márquez said. “I felt like I got a little quick in my delivery [in the third inning].”
He might still be working out the kinks during Spring Training, but pitch location is not an issue with Márquez during the regular season. In fact, both his strikeout-rate (24.3%) and walk-rate continue to improve each season. He’s simply reached the point where the club wants him to hit the target more often and build his stamina along the way. It’s the same goal for all elite pitchers.
“His challenge now is within the strike zone, the command part,” Black said. “The strikeout rate is great, and he’s got wipeout pitches. Now for me, it’s just fine-tuning his game.
Jiménez set to deliver
The biggest delivery in the Jiménez family might happen before Ubaldo even steps on the mound Saturday against the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch. It might happen Sunday once the game is over or any time in between.
Jiménez’s wife, Marivi, is 39 weeks pregnant with their third child and is expecting to have the baby any day now. The right-handed pitcher hopes the baby arrives Monday, a scheduled off-day for the Rockies, because otherwise he won’t be there for the child’s birth. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, he does not plan on taking paternity leave.
“My wife is very supportive, and we agreed that if I’m pitching, I should stay here,” said Jiménez, 36, who has not pitched in the big leagues since 2017. “I enjoyed being with my family and being there for my kids when I was home, but my wife knew it is time for me to get back to work and that’s what I’m doing.”
So far this spring, Jiménez has allowed two runs on four hits in four innings during his two previous appearances. He’ll take the mound Saturday for his second Cactus League start, competing against Chi Chi Gonzalez, Jeff Hoffman and Peter Lambert for the fifth spot in the rotation behind Kyle Freeland, German Marquez, Jon Gray and Antonio Senzatela.
“I’ve been able to throw a lot of strikes and command the fastball and I’m very happy with that,” said Jiménez, who played for the Rockies from 2006-11 and is in camp on a Minor League contract. “I just want to keep doing the same, going after hitters and making them swing the bat. Get some ground balls and get the job done.”
Jiménez, who pitched in the Dominican Winter League for Licey, said he is open to pitching in the Minors or out of the bullpen if that’s what the Rockies ask him to do. He’s definitely not ready to retire.
“I’m just grateful to be here after being out of baseball,” Jiménez said. “I’m enjoying my time and trying to do my job. Let’s see where that’s going to take me.”
Hawpe in camp
Former Rockies outfielder Brad Hawpe, who was drafted by the Rockies in 2000 and spent parts of seven seasons with the big league club, is in camp as a special instructor.
“We’ve talked about bringing some guys just to get them back involved a little bit,” said Black, who managed Hawpe with the Padres in 2011. “Brad was here through a great period of Rockies’ history. He was on the World Series team and some good teams. He was a good Rockie, and I think for him and some of the players to connect the past to some of the present and that dialogue is good stuff.”
Hawpe’s game-winning home run against Black’s Padres back in September of 2007 during Colorado’s run to the World Series is one of the most memorable moments of the outfielder’s career.
“You mean the homer in the 13th inning that he hit in the bullpen against Joe Thatcher. That one?” Black joked. “I don’t remember it. It was oppo left-center. It was unbelievable.”
• The Rockies optioned left-handed pitcher Ben Bowden and infielder Tyler Nevin to Triple-A Albuquerque, and right-handed pitcher Antonio Santos to Double-A Hartford.
• The club also reassigned these non-roster players to Minor League camp: right-handed pitchers Tommy Doyle, Julian Fernández, Alexander Guillen, Tim Melville and Wes Parsons, along with left-handed pitcher Ryan Rolison, infielders Ryan Vilade and Colton Welker and catcher Brian Serven.
• Ryan McMahon hit two home runs and drove in four runs against the D-backs on Friday. McMahon homered once in the top of the first inning and again in the sixth. He has three home runs this spring.
Jiménez will take the hill against the Dodgers in his second start of spring. He has allowed two runs on four hits in four innings during his two previous appearances. Daniel Bard, Yency Almonte, Jae McGee, Jesus Tinoco and Tim Collins are also scheduled to pitch. The game will be available on MLB Network, MLB.TV and Gameday Audio beginning at 1:05 p.m. MT on Saturday.