DENVER -- Rockies Summer Camp began with the outfield seats at Coors Field safe from the dents that come from home run balls. Live batting practice sessions seemingly brought a return of the Dead Ball Era.
Would the batsmen catch up? Would they have to adjust their ambitions?
Nolan Arenado was asked if he would fillet balls the opposite way for hits, rather than try to drive them, until his bat speed catches up. (Give Rockies icon and avid outdoorsman Todd Helton credit for description … “fillet” as a verb!)
“I’m going to go out there and try to let it rip,” Arenado said. “As a hitter, these pitchers are so good. I’m not talented to shoot the ball to right when I want. These pitchers are the best in the game and you’ve just got to be at your best. ... I’m going to let it fly.”
During Saturday night’s intrasquad game, Arenado feasted -- not on a fish fillet but on a meaty porterhouse -- with home runs off Tim Collins and Jesus Tinoco. Trevor Story and Arenado consecutively homered off Collins, and Drew Butera homered off Jake McGee.
Arenado’s homer gave the squad dressed in purple alternates a 4-3 win over the team in the familiar home whites with pinstripes.
Just a few days ago, Rockies manager Bud Black said it’s hard to “get out of bed and hit a 95 mph fastball.” But before Saturday night’s game -- which was loosely done by an innings format (although innings ended abruptly if a pitcher reached his prescribed pitch limit) -- Black said he is pleased how quickly hitters have caught up.
Daniel Murphy delivered a solid run-scoring single. Over the past few days, Ryan McMahon and Sam Hilliard have tagged some balls in live batting practice against pitchers throwing with intent.
“The competitive at-bats, I think they have 15 of them against our guys. They’ll get more tonight and more tomorrow night,” Black said during the afternoon. “That’s a good thing.
“Nolan and ‘Trev’ came into this camp truly ready. I mentioned yesterday how proud I was of all our players, but especially impressed with how they are feeling and how they’re going about it. They’ve really set a great tone for the rest of the group."
Garrett Hampson and Chris Owings, multi-position right-handed hitters, each had two hits. Hampson made a nice catch in left, coming in to rob Matt Kemp.
• Left-handed Ryan Rolison, the Rockies' first-round Draft pick in 2018 and their No. 2 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, went two innings, struck out one, gave up a hit and walked one. Rolison walked Story, the second hitter, then worked Arenado into a double-play grounder.
• Another player to watch out for is shortstop Alan Trejo, who has not appeared on the MLB Pipeline Top 30 Rockies prospects list. Trejo hit .243 at Double-A Hartford last season, but he earned Story’s praise during original Spring Training.
“He has good talent and the work ethic -- I like that a lot,” Story said. “He brings that intensity. He loves it. He loves working.”
The Rockies had to love Trejo's double to right field off righty Joe Harvey, and his nice running catch in foul ground against Hilliard.