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Prospect Garcia added to growing bullpen

Black not worried about task of managing 14 relievers
@oapostrophesd
September 7, 2019

SAN DIEGO – The Rockies added another pitcher on Saturday, recalling right-hander Rico Garcia from Triple-A Albuquerque. Manager Bud Black said Garcia, a starter in the Minors who made one spot start for the Rockies last month, likely will be used for length out of the bullpen should a starting

SAN DIEGO – The Rockies added another pitcher on Saturday, recalling right-hander Rico Garcia from Triple-A Albuquerque.

Manager Bud Black said Garcia, a starter in the Minors who made one spot start for the Rockies last month, likely will be used for length out of the bullpen should a starting pitcher have a short outing. That means the Rockies have 14 relievers on the active roster.

Is bullpen getting a bit unwieldy?

“The relievers, if they haven’t been in a game in a while, they’ll get up during a game and get some work in,” Black said. “Or we might do some early work before a game with certain guys. It’s not unlike Spring Training, just to make sure guys stay on the mound and are throwing.

“This is something pitching coaches have gone through before. It’s not as hard as you think.”

Black knows he can’t promise regular work to 14 relievers over the next three weeks, but he says the big league time can be productive even if there is limited game action. He know this from personal experience.

Black’s first callup came in September 1981 with the Mariners. He pitched back-to-back games in relief at Fenway Park from Sept. 5-6 and did not allow a run while recording his first three outs. Manager Rene Lachemann didn’t call on him again over the final 25 games.

“When I went to Spring Training [the following season], I felt more confident,” Black said. “I was much more calm.”

Black said he and the staff have regular conversations with all the callups, regardless of how much game action they see. That, and several weeks of exposure to the Major League environment, will help the younger players prepare for 2020.

“They get to watch a big league game, to watch the speed of the game,” Black said. “They see the talent difference between a Minor League game and a big league game. In this case, you’re seeing [Manny] Machado, [Eric] Hosmer. You’re seeing big league catchers, big league arms. When we play the Dodgers, you’re seeing their players.

“You’re in a bigger ballpark. You’re seeing third decks, fourth decks. The travel, the hotels. You check off all these boxes and gain experience. Then, when you’re back the second time, not everything is new. You’re not in awe of things the second time around.”

Garcia, 25, is the Rockies’ No. 20 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He split 2019 between Double-A Hartford and Triple-A Albuquerque, going a combined 10-6 with a 4.24 ERA in 26 starts. He took the loss in his Major League debut on Aug. 27, when the Red Sox scored six runs in five innings against him.

Freeland throws bullpen

Left-hander Kyle Freeland threw a light bullpen session, his first effort off a mound since he was sidelined because of a left groin strain. He last pitched Aug. 20.

“He threw well,” Black said. “Not a lot of pitches thrown, but very encouraging. We feel good about where Kyle is right now.”

Black said the goal remains for Freeland to make at least one more start before the season ends.

Gold has special meaning

The Rockies, along with all Major League clubs and umpires, raised awareness for childhood cancer on Saturday by wearing gold ribbon decals and wristbands. MLB’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Day is in collaboration with Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) and coincides with Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, which is in September. Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among children in the United States and Canada.

The Rockies’ participation is not merely symbolic. On opening weekend of Spring Training, the Rockies hosted their annual pediatric cancer trip, hosting more than 25 patients and caregivers at Salt River Fields. This year’s trip, all-expenses paid for the guests from Denver, was funded, planned and organized primarily by the Rockies’ front office, wives, fiancées and girlfriends.

Shaun O'Neill is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in San Diego. Follow him on Twitter @oapostrophesd.