Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
The Official Site of the Colorado Rockies
news

Rockies News

Holliday hitting well, making case for callup

Rockies could use right-handed bat, but no decision is imminent
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

ATLANTA -- The tweet from Triple-A Albuquerque of Matt Holliday sending a home run into orbit sparked dreams for Rockies fans.

View Full Game Coverage

ATLANTA -- The tweet from Triple-A Albuquerque of Matt Holliday sending a home run into orbit sparked dreams for Rockies fans.

Tweet from @ABQTopes: As promised, here is video of Matt Holliday's home run from tonight.No report on if the ball has landed quite yet. pic.twitter.com/a43V0DTgSY

View Full Game Coverage

Holliday, 38, the once and possibly future Rockies power hitter, waited most of this season until signing a Minor League contract with the Rockies on July 29, with an eye toward joining the team when rosters expand on Sept. 1.

In this case, Minor League stats are meaningless in comparison to the consistency of the at-bats, and the player's health, stamina for a game and bounce-back ability. If you're into numbers, he went into Saturday hitting .370 (17-for-46) and slugging .652 over 13 games, with home runs in three of his previous eight games.

"He's checking off some boxes," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "The thing that we're happy about is the physical side. Mentally, Matt's been a longtime player. You get back up to speed real quick. That didn't take long, I'm sure. But the confidence that when he faces all sorts of pitching -- there's a difference between big league pitching and Minor League pitching, but he's been able to face a lot of different styles of pitching in Triple-A -- will continue to get him closer to coming to us."

Black said reports also say he's "moving around well" at first base and in the outfield.

It all leads to an interesting thought: Should Holliday be a candidate for a callup soon, like, say, during a six-game homestand against the Padres and the Cardinals (his team from 2009-16)?

The team is in a race for the postseason and has an outfield full of left-handed hitters. First baseman Ian Desmond, who has experience in the outfield, is the only right-handed option. No decision is imminent, and the Rockies would have to consider a major roster factor.

On Saturday, the Rockies optioned infielder Pat Valaika to Albuquerque to make room for scheduled starter Antonio Senzatela. That left Garrett Hampson as the only logical option to play shortstop should Trevor Story need a day off for rest or because of a nagging injury, or have to leave a game.

The next option at short would be catcher Tony Wolters, but that would leave Chris Iannetta as the only catcher. There are few situations that are scarier for a manager than not having a backup catcher.

There is a workaround, however.

Desmond began his career at short. He played 5 1/3 innings at the position for one game last year. And Holliday played eight games at first base last season.

Story has appeared in all but one of the team's 122 games, and started all but two.

The project continues
Last year, Valaika hit .258 overall and .328 as a pinch-hitter (19-for-58). This year, he's at .150 overall and .190 (4-for-21) as a pinch-hitter. So as has been the case at several points this year, the Rockies hope regular time at Albuquerque has his bat ready for when he is needed in the Majors.

"We wanted him playing as the Minor League season concludes," Black said. "As September comes, another right-handed bat off the bench -- we need it. Last year, he proved very capable of that. This year has been a little bit different, but we still think he's capable.

"With Hampson, he's had a lot of at-bats in Triple-A. He provides a lot of versatility, infield and outfield, plus speed. He was swinging the bat well in Triple-A."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, Matt Holliday, Pat Valaika