Opening Day starting hurler, southpaw Jorge De La Rosa, took the mound for the Rockies. Three innings later, he left the game after allowing five runs on nine hits. That is not a typo, folks – nine hits, five runs.
Setup man and probable eventual Rockies closer Rex Brothers had equal difficulties in just one inning of work, allowing four runs on two hits.
Of course, it is just Spring Training, one would be foolish to read too far in to the results of the day. And admittedly so, De La Rosa and Brothers had been effective prior to Friday’s game, allowing no runs in limited spring action.
That said, a better outing by both against a tough Indians hitting lineup would have been a great shot of confidence for a starting rotation that was not very effective one season ago.
A questionable starting rotation will put the pressure on the Rockies’ defense and their production at the plate. Two newcomers to the team through offseason acquisitions with potential are former Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Justin Morneau and former Houston Astros outfielder Brandon Barnes.
Morneau is a lock to be the Opening Day starter in the position occupied by Todd Helton for 17 years, while Barnes is in a spring position battle for an outfield spot. Regardless of early battles and positions, both are intriguing additions.
Barnes, one day removed from his first home run of the spring, is batting .381 in the Cactus League. Morneau, whose early numbers aren’t quite as impressive, showed off a little power Friday, hitting his first long ball as a member of the Rockies.
Position battles will continue to be the theme for the Rockies as the spring season winds down and Opening Day draws closer. While some MLB teams enter the season with a clear identity, the Rockies are a ball club that will have to find theirs.
The identity search will be a journey for the Rockies, and regardless of outcome, it should be an entertaining one.