April 5, 2013
DENVER — His tree-trunk arms extended, Wilin Rosario made his best catch of the day.
"Come here, little boy," Wilin said to his 8-month-old son, Wil.
On a memorable opening day at Coors Field, this was the moment I took away: the Rockies catcher, seated in front of his locker, embracing his baby boy.
Dad, who goes by the nickname Baby Bull, was all smiles.
Baby Wil was all fascination, thanks to a nearby flat-screen TV.
“That’s my first opening day in the big leagues in my house,” Wilin Rosario said after the Rockies' 5-2 win against the Padres. "I feel good."
Prior to the first pitch of each game, Rosario says a prayer to the heavens: "God, give me the strong mental ability and allow me to do good things to help my team win.”
In the name of good sportsmanship, one suggestion: Pray for the opposing pitcher, too.
Against the Blake Street Bullies, who pack dynamite into this Rockies lineup, that poor guy will need a strong mental state.
The glaring piece missing from this franchise has been an organizational philosophy. When you think of the Rockies, what do you think about?
Big offense? Shaky pitching? Tasty microbrews at the ballpark?
The 2013 Rockies are back to their roots. Their M.O. is easy to identify: Hit and hit and hit until the opposing pitcher throws in the white Rosin bag.
"It's no secret we can hit," said Dexter Fowler, the leadoff man with three homers.
There is a good chance this is as powerful a lineup as Coors Field has seen.
Too soon? Not after watching the Rockies bomb 10 home runs through four games. In contrast, their opponent this weekend, the Padres, have hit one.
"I wouldn't guess we'd have 10 already," Weiss said. "But it's a powerful club. We knew that coming into the season. We saw it all spring."
Opening day at home is still a big deal. It’s bigger with a first-time manager who played here, and the sellout crowd greets his introduction with a roar heard in Lakewood.
"It's a big day," veteran starter Jeff Francis said after allowing one run in six innings.
Considering this is largely the same roster that lost 98 games a season ago, a promising start is important, at least in terms of maintaining fan interest. The audience of 49,077 — the ninth-largest in Coors Field history — suggests they are interested, at least in sunshine.
Colorado is 3-1. Not bad, for starters.
“It’s nice when you’ve got everybody healthy,” outfielder Michael Cuddyer said.
The usual suspects are in place and swinging heavy bats. Troy Tulowitzki doubled, Cuddyer tripled and Fowler ripped a 407-foot homer off the second deck.
"He’s a bully," Rosario said of Fowler, whose skinny frame might suggest otherwise.
Fowler has three home runs in four games. Rosario has two, Tulowitzki has two and Carlos Gonzalez has two. In Milwaukee, the Rockies hit eight home runs — a franchise-high for an opening series.
You know a lineup pops when Rosario, a rising star, bats seventh. He smacked another home run and is 6-for-12 with three RBIs in three games.
"Rosario's not going to be a No. 7 hitter for real long in his career,” Weiss said.
Opening day also is a time for nicknames. Dante Bichette, the hitting coach, suggested Blake Street Bullies for these Rockies. At this rate, it's going to stick.
"We've got some young guys that are coming into their own," Todd Helton said.
Like the Baby Bull.
"He's an impressive kid. He's got crazy power," Weiss said. "You sit there and watch him take B.P. and even the big boys marvel at Wilin's power. He's a special player."
Rosario soon will graduate from his nickname into something more fitting of a power-hitting catcher.
“What do you think?” Rosario asked. “The Real Bull?”
Judging by the smile on his son's face, he shouldn't change a thing.
Paul Klee is the Denver sports columnist for The Gazette. He can be reached via email (email@example.com) or on Twitter (@Klee_Gazette).
Hard knock Rox
It’s only been four games, but the 2013 Rockies are shaping up as another juggernaut at the plate. Here are five Rockies teams that led the National League in hitting:
Year Avg. HRs Runs
2000 .294 161 968
2001 .292 213 923
1996 .287 221 961
1999 .288 223 906
2007 .280 171 860