SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Carlos Gonzalez will be Colorado’s left fielder this season. Period. Rockies manager Jim Tracy said he’s earned as much.
“We wanted to put him someplace and let him go,” Tracy said Friday on the eve of the Rockies’ spring opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks. “It’s only fair to Carlos.”
Gonzalez won a Gold Glove last year after finishing the season with the second-highest fielding percentage among National League outfielders. He won the honor despite playing all three outfield spots. He was the only NL outfielder to record an assist from each of the three outfield positions last year.
Gonzalez started 55 games in center, 51 in left and 34 in right for the Rockies last season.
“Periodically we may use him in center field but we’re not going to play him at all three,” Tracy said. “We’re not going to do it. No more left field at home, right field on the road.”
Tracy believes the cavernous spaces in left field and center will be best defended by the combination of Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler in center.
The Rockies will use Ryan Spilborghs as a backup at all three spots and Ty Wigginton at the corner spots.
Infielder Eric Young Jr. and catcher Wilin Rosario are the only two position players not available for Saturday’s Cactus League opener.
Young is still dealing with issues related to a stress fracture in his right tibia he sustained last year.
Rosario, a Texas League All-Star and Futures Game participant, is recovering from a torn ACL suffered last August.
Right-hander Edgmer Escalona missed a few days of camp to get X-rays on a possible lung infection. He was cleared and is expected back sometime over the weekend.
“He wasn’t complaining about anything,” Tracy said. “It was something they saw on an X-ray and they were being cautious. There are no issues.”
Right-hander Aaron Cook went through a progression of steps, beginning with long toss and graduating to throwing off the sloop of the mound Friday. He’s getting ready for a full bullpen session and facing live hitters and has not been scheduled to pitch in a game yet.
Tracy also said that first baseman Todd Helton would not play in Saturday’s opener.
“I just don’t want to put Helton out there just yet,” Tracy said. “You’ll see him out there soon.
Tracy announced the starters for Saturday’s Cactus League opener, though he was unsure of a batting order. Tracy will start catcher Chris Iannetta, first baseman Ty Wigginton, second baseman Jose Lopez, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, third baseman Ian Stewart, Gonzalez, Fowler, right fielder Seth Smith and right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez. ... Jimenez is scheduled to throw two innings and will be followed by Greg Reynolds, Claudio Vargas and Billy Buckner. ... LHP Jorge De La Rosa gets the start for Sunday’s intrasquad game.