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Arenado 'very confident' season will play out

@harding_at_mlb
July 12, 2020

DENVER -- The fears and unknowns about getting a baseball season during a pandemic have dissipated for Rockies star third baseman Nolan Arenado. “Every day, I’ve grown more confident that it’s going to happen,” Arenado said in Zoom interview with media on Sunday. “Obviously, everyone had a little doubt, but

DENVER -- The fears and unknowns about getting a baseball season during a pandemic have dissipated for Rockies star third baseman Nolan Arenado.

“Every day, I’ve grown more confident that it’s going to happen,” Arenado said in Zoom interview with media on Sunday. “Obviously, everyone had a little doubt, but I feel very confident as long as we keep continuing to get better with the testing and get it within hours, or quicker, there’s no reason why we can’t be playing baseball this year. I think that will be huge.”

The specter of star players deciding not to play -- such as Giants catcher Buster Posey and Dodgers pitcher David Price, or Rockies teammate Ian Desmond -- hasn’t dampened Arenado’s enthusiasm. Nor has the recent positive test for Yankees reliever Aroldis Chapman or the fact that Rockies teammate Charlie Blackmon is not in camp.

“Those are the roads they’re taking,” Arenado said. “I respect them. But players that are here in the room should be locked in here. I think with testing, we’ve done a really good job as MLB, as a group, and guys understand what’s gong on. Guys are wearing their masks. Guys want to play baseball.

“We’ve got to find a way to continue that and stay locked in. It’s going to be really hard, but there’s no reason why it can’t happen. Especially if we get the technical tests quicker, we’ll be just fine for the season. We can enjoy it. I think we can give the world something to watch and enjoy.”

Performance from the start of the 60-game season seems to be the key to maintaining enthusiasm. But Arenado said that no matter how the season goes, everyone has a reason to play.

“I’ve said from the go, you’ve got to find a way to stay consistent throughout the whole year,” he said. “There’s no slow start for us. I don’t think that’s going to work this year, as far as not being eliminated.

“I mean, there’s a lot to play for. Even if you’re out of it when you’re talking about the playoffs, you have a lot of young players, arbitration numbers, teams want to see how good you are.

“Then honestly, just being back playing baseball when there’s a chance we could never play again, that’s a great motivation. I think everyone should enjoy being back, competing, regardless if it’s 60 games. Find a way to learn, grow and get better.”

On his teammates, Arenado said, “I talked to Ian on the phone, saying, ‘I’m happy for you. Whatever you want to do, take care of your family.' And Chuck is someone I talk to every day. He says he feels great. He’s ready to go. He’s just trying to pass the tests, and once he passes the tests, he’ll be back ready to go.”

Desmond putting action behind words

Among Desmond’s reasons for choosing not to play are his desires to speak out on racial justice issues, and a desire to help rekindle the youth baseball programs that helped him develop in his hometown of Sarasota, Fla. Desmond posted on Instagram on Sunday, saying things are in the works.

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Precautions

Because outfielder David Dahl does not have a spleen -- it was surgically removed after it was ruptured during an on-field collision in the Minors -- he has to take special precautions to keep his immune system strong.

Toward that end, the Rockies converted their quiet room (taking into account the importance of sleep, added such a chamber to their clubhouse during renovations in 2018) into Dahl’s dressing area. Dahl posted about it on Instagram on Sunday.

Murphy’s swing

Sunday’s simulated game saw first baseman/designated hitter Daniel Murphy continue swinging well. Murphy singled to left off Antonio Senzatela in his first appearance, and later homered to right field off righty Ashton Goudeau. Murphy missed much of last April with a left index finger injury and finished the first year of a two-year, $24 million contract with a .279 batting average -- his lowest since hitting .266 in 2009.

“Daniel and I spoke at length at the end of the season last year, and he felt like he wasn't covering the inside pitch like he had been over the previous three or four years,” Rockies hitting coach Dave Magadan said. “That was the big adjustment he made as a hitter. He took his game from being a pretty good Major League player to be one of the best hitters in the game.

“We didn't do that a lot with us last year. And we address some of the reasons why. We had a lot of data to back it up, and he agreed with it. And he worked his butt off in the offseason to get back to where he was able to get to pitches that were even in off the plate, which he was able to do for many years with Washington and New York.”

Magadan said Murphy “would never blame” the finger injury.

Worth noting

• Also during Sunday’s simulated game, Chris Owings blasted a homer to dead center off Carlos Estévez.

• Brendan Rodgers, playing shortstop, made a strong fielding play behind second base and flipped to Owings, whose relay to complete a double play on Tony Wolters (behind Senzatela) was equally impressive.

• There weren’t nine players on the field, but Garrett Hampson ranged from center to deep right to rob Matt Kemp of a home run.

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