April 4, 2013
A soft breeze along with a strong dose of sunshine. A cloud rolling by. A salty bag of popcorn washed down by an icy soda. A beer under the open sky.
Ah, opening day at the ballpark.
It’s a day of possibility. It’s a day when the bitter nights of winter are behind and the long, bright days of summer are just around the bend.
It’s a day of celebration, right?
For most of us, yes.
For Sky Sox outfielder Tyler Colvin, no.
Let’s just say Colvin did not expect to be playing baseball in Colorado Springs this April. Or this season, for that matter.
“I thought I was part of that club,” he said.
He was talking, of course, about the Colorado Rockies. Colvin expected he would be playing in the outfield at Coors Field.
He’s not alone in his surprise. The Rockies stumbled to 98 losses last season, leading to the exodus of manager Jim Tracy and the arrival of Walt Weiss. It was a dark, baffling, infuriating season with few glimmers of hope.
Colvin was one of those glimmers. He collected 18 home runs, 72 RBIs and 10 triples while hitting .290. He played the infield and the outfield. He was powerful. He was versatile. He earned a $2.275 million one-year contract in arbitration for this season. Colvin was 1-of-4 Thursday in his Sky Sox debut.
Did he expect to make the Rockies opening day roster?
“Of course,” he said. “Of course.”
Spring training was a disaster as Colvin traveled quickly from a sure thing with the Rockies to the outfield at Security Service Field.
“I didn’t feel I was fighting for a spot in spring training,” Colvin said. “Did I look good in spring training? No, but it is spring training. Maybe from now on, I’ll take it that I’m not on the team at the start of the year. That’s the way I will take it from now on.”
Sky Sox manager Glenallen Hill watched in Arizona while Colvin struggled.
“I don’t think he went to spring training thinking he would hit as poorly as he hit,” Hill said. “He was out of rhythm. He has a lot of moving parts in his hitting style, and he was just out of sync.”
Colvin dismisses that his tumble was solely because of his performance at spring training. He believes the Rockies wanted to emphasize speed, especially in the outfield.
Nobody in the organization is faster than Eric Young Jr., who also has spent far more time in Colorado Springs than he wanted.
“I understand what happened,” Colvin said. “I’m happy for Eric. I understand the plan, but it leaves me as the odd man out.”
Yes, it does. The Rockies' starting outfield of Michael Cuddyer, Dexter Fowler and Carlos Gonzalez appears set, and Colvin will not defeat Young in a footrace. His best-case scenario for the Rockies appears to be in a pinch-hitting role.
Or, maybe, he could be trade bait.
Hill has been pleased by Colvin’s effort and attitude, but he expects no less.
“I mean,” Hill said with a shrug, “he has no choice.”