DENVER -- Lefty Kyle Freeland said Rockies starting pitchers should be built up enough to throw 75 to 90 pitches when the regular season begins July 23 or 24.
Pitchers were facing hitters at Coors Field when it and other MLB facilities were shut down per league health and safety protocols in late June, but Freeland said they did enough during the shutdown not to lose conditioning.
“Me and [right-handed rotation candidate Jeff] Hoffman, there’s a park right next to our apartment, so we would go there and throw together,” Freeland said. “We’d do long-toss, stretch out our arms as much as possible and keep our stamina.
“We have three weeks to get ramped up. I feel that myself and our other starters, with our mindsets and our work ethic, that’s plenty of time to prepare our bodies and our arms and our minds to compete and eat a solid amount of innings in our first couple of outings.”
Díaz, prospects en route: Right-handed relief pitcher Jairo Díaz, who converted five of six September save opportunities and could be part of the late-game bullpen this season, was delayed on his trip from the Dominican Republic and had not arrived in Summer Camp as of Sunday morning. Catcher Elias Díaz and right-handed prospect Alexander Guillen also had not arrived.
“A lot of times I don't dig into why they were hung up,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “My question to our people is, ‘When are they coming?’”
Bowden on the mend: Left-handed relief prospect Ben Bowden, shut down in early Spring Training because of a back injury, has improved but Black said he is “a little bit backed up, working through some things. We’re glad he’s here -- that tells you he's able to perform some activities.” A second-round pick in 2016 who has dealt with injury throughout his pro career, Bowden is the Rockies’ No. 10 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.
(Somewhat) handyman: Needing to keep up his conditioning after Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale was shut down during the early pandemic days, Hoffman became creative.
“I wouldn’t say I’m a handyman by any means -- I learned a thing or two through the years, and I kind of used the internet as much as I could for help,” Hoffman said. “I had Freeland help me for a time. It was tough but we got it done.
“It was wood base and frame, and we had horse stall mats as a surface because you wouldn’t want it slippery or anything. I was telling someone the other day, this is why we go through the Minor Leagues. Nothing ever goes smoothly when you’re talking about that kind of stuff.”
Freeland said he ordered a manufactured mound that didn’t make it to Scottsdale until he had left for Denver, so Hoffman’s DIY was quite appreciated.
Heard it here first: Right-hander Antonio Senzatela’s name tends to be mentioned last in discussions of the four pitchers expected to be in the rotation. But to hear pitching coach Steve Foster say it, Senzatela could make the biggest step forward.
Senzatela has had three up-and-down seasons (27-22, 5.33 ERA in 84 games, 58 starts), but he also has made a postseason start for the club and is just 25.
“The greatest strides of all these guys, for me, is Antonio Senzatela,” Foster said. “It was the things done behind the scenes last year at the end of the season that he stuck with through the offseason and came into Spring Training. His velocity is up. His breaking pitches are sharper. The Rapsodo [pitching monitors] tells me his numbers have increased -- spin rate and vertical [break]. He’s just gotten better and he’s already done well.”
“I was happy to hit with him and learn from him -- he was the best player in the game at one point,” Arenado said. “Mike Trout is now. But he was Mike Trout before Mike Trout.
“He’s done a lot of damage against us. I’ve gotten to know him a little bit, and I’ve really enjoyed my time. He could always just hit. That’s something that he’s just done and I don’t think he’s ever going to stop doing.”