Notes: Lambert sharp; plan set for Rodgers

March 1st, 2020

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Right-handed pitcher came to Spring Training with a regular-season thought process. That and performance have put him in the lead for the open spot in the starting rotation.

Lambert used all his pitches during two solid innings of the Rockies’ 14-2 loss to a Dodgers split squad on Saturday afternoon at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

“I’m very happy with it,” Lambert said. “I was able to throw a little bit of everything. So it was good to work on all my pitches, especially my slider. I got a few sliders in there today.

“You want to come to camp ready to go, especially if you’re competing for a spot.”

, and , assuming the accuracy of Freeland's report that his back spasms are no big deal, came to camp set. The off-speed pitches that righty needed to develop came with him to camp. So we’re dealing with one spot here.

There is plenty of spring left. Right-handers (9.82 spring ERA) and (15.75), who went 2 1/3 innings Saturday and absorbed the first three runs of the Dodgers’ 11-run fifth inning, have to be happy about that.

Lambert’s performance so far -- one run, one hit and five strikeouts in four innings -- speaks well of his candidacy. Non-roster veteran righty and righty , who pitched at Double-A last season, are the ones whose early work compares to Lambert’s.

Lambert, 22, a rookie last year who lost his fastball power during the lengthy big league season, had his best sequence Saturday during a 10-pitch confrontation with Enrique Hernández in the first inning. Hernández took a ball on a changeup to fill the count and then swung over Lambert’s slider.

“It was a great at-bat -- he fouled off a lot of good pitches, and I was able to get him with a slider at the end, which was a pitch I’ve been working on,” Lambert said.

The only hit off Lambert was a two-out solo home run in the second inning by Zach Reks, who hit a combined 28 home runs at Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City last year. Lambert didn’t feel bad about that curveball.

“I thought it was a pretty good pitch, and he just put a better swing on it, I guess,” Lambert said. “That at-bat went well. Things like that are going to happen. I thought I threw some great pitches, and he fought them off.”

Said Rockies manager Bud Black: "It's really early, but it's good to see that Peter has incorporated some of the things we worked on last September, worked hard on this winter and has taken into the spring."

Iron man
When you’re a star, it’s easy to say a game like Saturday’s is for the birds, but Rockies third baseman stayed in the game through the seventh inning. In his final plate appearance, Arenado had to lean away from several inside pitches while drawing a walk from Dodgers righty Jordan Sheffield.

"We talked about it after the 11-run inning to get him out of there,” Black said, “but he said, 'Buddy, let's see what happens in the sixth.' Then he came in and said, 'Buddy, I want to get three at-bats.' Him and [shortstop ] both.”

Injury report
• Infielder , the No. 29 overall prospect on the MLB Pipeline rankings for this season, took batting practice on the main field Saturday and is not far from game action as a designated hitter. The plan is for him to serve as designated hitter Friday, but there is a possibility he will play in split-squad action Thursday. After a couple games at DH, he would play four innings at second base in his first defensive appearance, if all goes well.

• Corner infielder/outfielder said he’s hoping to soon start building up his activity, but his strained abdominal region has not been declared healthy enough for him to do so.

Up next
Márquez will make his spring debut at 1:10 p.m. MT on Sunday against the Angels at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Lefty , the Rockies’ No. 2 prospect, also is scheduled to pitch, as are key relievers , and .