Starting pitcher Kyle Freeland and rookie second baseman Brendan Rodgers, expected key players who sustained Spring Training injuries that have kept them off the Rockies’ active roster so far, will participate in simulated games at Coors Field before Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Giants.
Manager Bud Black -- who also announced that Germán Márquez will start Tuesday’s opener while the nightcap starter will be a to-be-determined pitcher from the alternate site -- said Freeland (left shoulder strain) is scheduled for two innings, and Rodgers (right hamstring strain) will hit and simulate baserunning.
Righty reliever Yency Almonte, placed on the 10-day injured list over the weekend with a right hand contusion, will throw a simulated inning against Rodgers and a few bench bats wanting to work against live pitching.
Black said it’s likely that the simulated game will be repeated during the weekend series in St. Louis, although whether the club would send Freeland on his rehab after Tuesday was “a fair question.”
Black said Rodgers, a rookie who was being given his chance to start before the injury occurred, made solid progress during the weekend while with the team in Arizona. He also is nearing a Minor League rehab assignment.
“Brendan is in really good place,” Black said. “He ran the bases in Arizona, did a lot of sprinting, simulated hitting a double in Arizona on the field. He's taking ground balls, he’s hitting in the cage, hitting on the field.”
Freeland threw bullpen sessions at the end of the last homestand and during the Rockies’ seven-game road trip, which ended Sunday.
Estévez hits the IL
In addition to calling up a 27th player and determining a starter for Game 2 on Tuesday -- among the options are Ryan Rolison (the club's No. 2 prospect, who is listed on the Double-A Hartford roster), Antonio Santos, José Mujica, Ryan Castellani and long reliever Jhoulys Chacín -- the Rockies have a bullpen spot to fill.
Righty Carlos Estévez, who has not given up an earned run in his last five outings (six strikeouts, no walks), was placed on the 10-day injured list on Monday (retroactive to Friday) because of a right middle finger strain. The club recalled Sam Hilliard from the alternate training site after optioning him during the weekend series with the D-backs.
Hilliard went 4-for-37 with two home runs and 19 strikeouts in 19 games before being optioned.
History with Schmidt, history with the situation
At the end of his playing career in the 1990s, Black worked as a special assistant in the Indians' front office. During that time, he worked with Bill Schmidt, then a national crosschecker with Cleveland's scouting department.
Schmidt, who has led the Rockies’ Drafts since 2000 and has been the club’s scouting vice president since '07, was named the interim general manager on Monday. Jeff Bridich resigned last week as GM.
“It's a good fit for us,” Black said. “Billy brings, obviously, a great deal of baseball experience to this role for the rest of the season. He has a great perspective on the game. He knows players on this club -- he drafted most of them. He knows a lot of players on other clubs, because he scouted them. More simply put: He's a very solid baseball man.”
Black also has experienced in-season front-office upheaval before. The Padres parted with then-GM Josh Byrnes during the 2014 season, with Black then serving as manager.
“We had a three-man grouping with Omar Minaya, Fred Uhlman and A.J. Hinch taking over the top of the baseball operations,” Black said. “With Billy involved, with Zack Rosenthal, Zach Wilson and Jon Weil, it’ll be a collaborative effort.”
Shortstop Trevor Story, hit on the right index finger with a pitch during Sunday’s 8-4 loss at Arizona, took full-speed batting practice in the cage at Coors Field on Monday. Black said Story would have been able to start had Monday’s game not been rained out.
Black said he planned to meet Monday with slumping closer Daniel Bard, who has posted a 15.19 ERA in his last six appearances despite feeing strong and seeing solid velocity readings.
"Never," Bard said Sunday, when asked if he had ever felt so good, but had numbers that were so bad. "It's strange to feel really good about my delivery, sequencing, about the way my body is moving, feel for the breaking ball. I've thrown some changeups that haven't exactly landed where I've wanted, but overall, [thrown] three quality pitches."
Bard has talked to Rockies hitters to see what they see. He's investigating whether he is tipping pitches or giving away pitches by his sequencing, since hitters seem to know what's coming.
Black declined to divulge secrets about how to get hitters off pitches, but he said Bard’s four-run eighth on Sunday featured “some fastballs that were up [and] out over the plate … and there were a number of pitches that were tailing to the outside part of the plate, and there were some bad hitters’ counts.”
Bard also started the inning by walking leadoff man Josh VanMeter, who was batting .156.