Bunts lead to rocky 8th for Rosario, Rox
PHOENIX -- Can't say Rockies manager Walt Weiss didn't give proper warning. Even Wilin Rosario knew that while learning to play first base at the Major League level, he could do something spectacularly awful. It happened at an inopportune time Saturday night.
The Rockies trailed the D-backs by a run in the eighth when Rosario dashed in for Cliff Pennington's surprise bunt with runners at first and third. Rosario looked to the plate, didn't have a play, then made a blind, leaping throw to first base. Problem was no one was there. A second run scored, and the D-backs handed the Rockies a 7-3 loss.
Rosario was a catcher until this year, which meant the crash course in the Majors would include a pop quiz for which no study could prepare him. Pennington dropped the bunt at the last possible instant. Catcher Nick Hundley pointed to first base, and Rosario fired before pitcher Tommy Kahnle or second baseman DJ LeMahieu could reach the bag.
"When I came to the dugout, I asked the infielders, 'Tulo' [shortstop Troy Tulowitzki] and DJ, what I can do better in that situation," Rosario said. "They said it was a tough situation. It was a tough play. But they recommend for me don't jump and throw. Just if I don't have a play at home plate, just do a half step and just look at first to throw the ball. If there's somebody there, now I decide if I throw."
The D-backs dropped three bunts that inning -- Chris Owings' sacrifice, and bunt singles by Nick Ahmed and Pennington.
Add to that an unsuccessful Ahmed squeeze attempt in the fourth and on Friday night, A.J. Pollock's ninth-inning bunt single, and it looks like a pattern. The bunts occurred against rookie Scott Oberg on Friday and second-year man Kahnle on the mound Saturday.
Lost in the wild, if athletic, throw from Rosario is the fact right fielder Brandon Barnes was not in position to back up first base and prevent the second run from scoring and Pennington from reaching third. Pennington would later score.
Weiss rejected the notion that the D-backs were exposing weaknesses in the Rockies' alignment or execution.
"Nobody's seeing anything," Weiss said. "We didn't defend the bunt the last couple of nights. Our guys know how to defend bunts."
It looked bad, but third baseman Nolan Arenado, who said bunts could be occurring because he plays deep, said looks aren't important.
"Losing in general is bad, no matter if we're getting out-executed, out-hit, out pitched," Arenado said.
Don't expect Rosario to play tentatively because of a colossal miscue, however.
"I'm not afraid to make plays," he said. "The only way you're going to be good is if you're not afraid. If you're afraid, you're going to make a lot of mistakes. I'm never afraid to do anything. Mistakes are going to happen because that's baseball."