You could make a pretty good baseball team out of the players working out at the Colorado Rockies’ extended spring training facility in Tucson, Ariz.
For starters, Tri-City Dust Devils fans will remember third baseman Darin Holcomb and center fielder Charlie Blackmon as two of the most productive offensive players in team history. Neither, however, has taken a regular-season at bat this season. Instead, both continue to rehab injures — Holcomb is fighting recurring back problems and Blackmon is nursing a strained hamstring.
Kent Matthes, whose 23 doubles last season in Tri-City fell one short of the Rockies’ short-season record for doubles, is also in camp, along with Tyler Matzek, Colorado’s top pick in last year’s draft. Matzek is a left-handed pitcher who signed late last season and has yet to throw his first professional pitch.
“I think all these guys are close. Probably about 2-3 weeks away,” said Dust Devils manager Fred Ocasio, who is there close to his Tucson home along with the entire coaching and training staffs from Tri-City and Casper — the Rockies’ rookie-league affiliate in Wyoming.
A few big-league players are also in camp, including pitcher Taylor Bucholz and infielder Omar Quintanilla, plus newly-signed infielder Eider Torres, who spent four years in the Cleveland Indians organization and another in the Baltimore Orioles’ system.
Ocasio has been impressed with the talent level so far, but after just over a week’s worth of games, it’s pretty early to start making conclusions.
“Our first game (last week) we had a bunch of errors, but we had a good game the next day,” Ocasio said.
The pitchers take a little longer to bring along. Ocasio explained that starting pitchers will go a maximum of 2-3 innings at first, and then will slowly build up innings.
“They don’t go 5-6-7 innings at once,” Ocasio said. “They start slow, then we can start stretching them out.”