1. Salt River Fields at Talking Stick — As pristine as we’ve heard?
Goodness, yes. The Rockies spring training home for two-plus seasons, Salt River Fields welcomed a sellout crowd of 11,576 in the opener against the Diamondbacks on Saturday. And a handful in attendance even watched Colorado's 11-2 win — in between margaritas at the Salty Senorita down the right-field line. “I thought (the field) looked like it was in pretty darn good shape,” manager Walt Weiss said. Outfield lawn tickets go for $8 (and the lawn was full), infield-box seats go for $27 and a bratwurst can be had for $8. With the first-pitch temp hovering around 65 degrees, the sunburn was free.
2. Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez — Will their stars shine?
At their healthy best, Tulo and CarGo provide Colorado with a 1-2 star-punch that few teams can match. Their health is at the top of the must-watch list. After missing 113 games last season with a groin injury, Tulo was in the lineup and went 1-for-2 with an RBI. “He’ll be off (Sunday)," Weiss said. The Rockies are hoping Gonzalez regains his MVP-caliber form after a slumping second half of the 2012 season. He went 1-for-3 in the spring opener.
3. Walt Weiss — What to expect from the new manager?
Regis Jesuit is on a roll. The Class 5A school produced four-time gold medalist Missy Franklin, the star of the London Olympics. Now the Regis baseball team’s former coach is in charge of turning Coors Field into a golden ticket again. Last seen in a dugout, Weiss was coaching the Regis baseball team in a state playoff game against Cherry Creek. On Saturday, the first-time MLB manager made his spring training debut against the Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields. "It’s nice having Tommy (Runnells, the bench coach) right there,” Weiss said. All eyes are on the rookie manager. The 1988 AL Rookie of the Year, he knows a thing or two about exceeding expectations as a first-timer.
4. Rockies ownership — Is winning the priority?
Here's a promise: We won’t pass judgment on this Rockies club until it is given a chance to shine or fail during the 2013 season. The spring isn't too early, however, to question why a franchise-worst season resulted in almost zero roster movement in the offseason. Dan O'Dowd is the fourth-longest tenured GM in baseball and enters his 13th year at Coors Field without so much as a division title to his name. It is an odd arrangement, to say the least.
5. The 2013 season — Is there hope?
With Colorado’s lineup, yes. With Colorado's pitching, eh. But building hope is the purpose of spring training, right? The well of optimism bubbles over from February through March, and the chipper Rockies, coming off a 98-loss season, are no different. Watch the injury report and the pitching numbers, instead of the win-loss record. The Rox rock in spring training. Colorado has just one losing record in the past 10 springs.