DENVER -- With the Rockies holding their first Spring Training workouts for pitchers and catchers on Thursday at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale, Ariz., you have questions.
We offer answers.
How about the full squad?
The report deadline for the rest of the squad is Monday, and the first full-squad workout is Tuesday.
How different will Spring Training look?
The best way to put it is unless it’s a video or tweet from the club or media, you won’t see it. There’s no fan access as part of a detailed plan to reduce in-person traffic, while the baseball world takes its turn conducting business amid the pandemic.
OK, how different will spring be for players?
Not a lot different, actually. With 62 players in Major League camp and 13 in Triple-A camp, the total is normal. There will be no Minor League Spring Training games, however. The Triple-A players will participate in Cactus League games. The complex will be a little less crowded, since Minor League camp will not begin until big league camp breaks.
But will you be able to see the Rockies when games start?
Yes. The plan is Salt River Fields, where the Rockies and D-backs open the Cactus League schedule on Feb. 28, will open to 17 percent capacity, or around 2,200 fans.
How about television and radio?
AT&T SportsNet and the KOA Rockies Radio Network are still formulating plans, since the schedule underwent changes. Select Spring Training games will be available on MLB.TV. Check back here for more details as broadcast schedules are finalized leading up to the start of Cactus and Grapefruit League play.
The only Rockies player expected to begin the season on the injured list is right-handed pitcher Peter Lambert, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery conducted in July. Righty reliever Scott Oberg, who missed the end of 2019 and all of '20 with a blood clotting problem in his right arm, is ready to participate, although the Rockies will monitor him closely.
First things first
First base has been more a problem than a puzzle, but the slow offseason might have helped the Rockies sign to Minor League contracts a couple of hitters with power: C.J. Cron -- formerly with the Angels, Rays, Twins and Tigers -- and Greg Bird, formerly with the Yankees. Josh Fuentes won the Rockies’ job last season and could hit his way into the team’s plans, either at first base or at multiple positions. Also, the Rockies will look at Connor Joe, who has solid Minor League power numbers and made eight appearances for the Giants in 2019. Joe was in Dodgers camp last year, but missed the season after surgery for testicular cancer.
Old faces, new places
Ryan McMahon shifts from second base to third base to replace Nolan Arenado, who, in case you haven’t heard, has been traded to the Cardinals. Garrett Hampson, whose defensive stats reveal a tour around the infield and outfield, will be given a chance to claim center field. Left fielder and leadoff man Raimel Tapia, rookies Sam Hilliard and Yonathan Daza, and infield-outfield prospect Bret Boswell also can play center, so expect heavy competition.
About that Arenado trade
The Rockies received left-hander Austin Gomber, who posted a 1.86 ERA in 14 games (four starts) with the Cardinals last year. Gomber, who went 6-2 with a 4.44 ERA in 29 games (11 starts) with the Cards in 2018, has a shot at the back of the rotation. Righties Ryan Castellani, Chi Chi González and Dereck Rodríguez also are in the rotation mix.
They’re still here, right?
It’s not so much speculation that the Rockies will trade star shortstop Trevor Story as much as it’s the baseball world expecting them to do so. Colorado has made no noise about such a deal. Also still here is right fielder Charlie Blackmon, long a fan favorite. If the Rockies get off to the start that can change the vibe around the franchise, expect those two -- plus starting pitchers Germán Márquez, Kyle Freeland, Antonio Senzatela and Jon Gray -- to be central figures.
Familiar face, familiar place
Outfielder Ian Desmond, who chose not to play last season but earned the Rockies’ Roberto Clemente Award nomination for his work reviving youth baseball and promoting justice in Sarasota, Fla., returns. Will Desmond be in a platoon -- with action coming against left-handers -- and play multiple positions, or can he regain a starting job in the final year of a five-year, $70 million deal?
Land of opportunity
Former Rockies top Draft pick Brendan Rodgers will be given his chance to claim second base. Catchers Elias Díaz and Dom Nuñez -- and non-roster invitees José Briceño and Chris Rabago, for that matter -- will also have a shot.
Make or break
The Rockies used a Rule 5 Draft pick on hard-throwing, right-handed former top Dodgers pick Jordan Sheffield. In 2019, Sheffield had 74 strikeouts but 43 walks at the Class A Advanced and Double-A levels, but he showed signs of improved control in fall instructional ball.
The Rockies pitched the stretch last year with no left-handers in the bullpen, and it’s easy to project the Opening Day roster being the same. But Phillip Diehl can change that by pitching like he did in late 2019 rather than how he performed in '20. And No. 11 prospect Ben Bowden has the arm to make a difference, but he never appeared in the Majors last season because of a back ailment.
They’ve got them. (Really, they do): Lefty No. 2 prospect Ryan Rolison, corner infielder Colton Welker (No. 8) and corner outfielder-corner infielder Ryan Vilade (No. 4), all high picks with impressive tools, were hurt by the lack of a Minor League season. Outfielder Jameson Hannah (No. 16), obtained from the Reds for pitcher Jeff Hoffman, and hard-throwing righty Julian Fernández, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2019, also could improve their prospect profiles.
When does the season start, and can fans watch?
The regular-season opens at Coors Field against the defending World Series champion Dodgers on April 1 at 2:10 p.m. MT. Teams, in conjunction with government officials, make decisions on whether fans are allowed and, if so, how many. The best way to find the latest information is at rockies.com/update.