Save this content for laterSave this content on your device for later, even while offline Sign in with FacebookSign in with your Facebook account Close

Woody Paige: Colorado Rockies need rotation replacement for Chad Bettis and a fifth starter

March 26, 2017 Updated: March 26, 2017 at 8:05 am
0
photo - Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Chad Bettis delivers a pitch to a San Francisco Giants batter during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, Sept. 5, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Chad Bettis delivers a pitch to a San Francisco Giants batter during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, Sept. 5, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) 

The Rockies have been a star-crossed team in spring training.

The Rox have lost 13 Cactus League games, which doesn't matter. But they have lost four significant players, which does.

New first baseman Ian Desmond broke a finger, and two young starters are injured - catcher Tom Murphy with a fractured forearm and left fielder David Dahl with a rib stress reaction in the wheelhouse of his swing.

More important, and very sad, was the announcement that pitcher Chad Bettis' testicular cancer had returned and spread.

Bettis, who won 14 games last season and was 22-13 in the past two, could have challenged the club record for victories in a season (17). He will be out for months, at least, and maybe the entire season. Bettis turns 28 on April 26. He is a quality pitcher and man, and we wish Chad a full recovery and a healthy life.

The Rockies are scrambling to find a replacement in the rotation, and also a fifth starter. Jeff Hoffman, the primary pitcher acquired in the Troy Tulowitzki trade, was sent down Thursday. So there are three options - two 22-year-old right-handers and a 23-year-old left-hander. Venezuelan German Marquez was 1-1 in three starts during a brief late stint with the Rox in 2016.

Marquez, who came to the Rockies from the Rays in the Corey Dickerson deal, sparkled in his six-inning stint Saturday against the Cubs. He didn't allow a run for the first five and ended up permitting two, with five hits and six strikeouts. He surely has guaranteed a place on the roster.

Neither Antonio Senzatela nor Kyle Freeland has pitched in the majors. Senzatela, also from Venezuela, hasn't pitched above AA, but owns a 42-19 record in five minor-league seasons, and was 15-2 at the A level in '14.

Senzatela was a senzation at 16, when he signed with the Rockies for a $250,000 bonus.

Freeland, the left-hander, is not from Venezuela. He is from Thomas Jefferson High School and was the Rockies' No. 1 draft pick in '14. Freeland set the Colorado prep record at TJ with 145 strikeouts, so he can pitch at altitude. He grew up as a Rockies' fan - specifically, Larry Walker - and turned down a lucrative offer when he was drafted by the Phillies after high school. Instead, he became even better at the University of Evansville.

I would have preferred the Rox would sign a veteran free agent starter to strengthen the back of the rotation, despite that concept generally not succeeding here before. (We hardly knew ye, Jamie Moyer.) But 39-year-old Ryan Vogelsong, who won games with the Giants, is available. He was released by the Twins last week after declining to become a reliever.

Although Jon Gray was the latest injured Rox player (toe woe), he is OK and will be the opening-day starter April 3 in Milwaukee, and followed by the Twin Tylers (Anderson and Chatwood).

The Rockies' rotation had a total of 28 victories last year.

Fortunately, they took my advice and finally hired an ex-pitcher (manager Bud Black) and a former catcher (bench coach Mike Redmond), and kept Steve Foster and Darren Holmes as pitching coaches to handle the Rockies' major (league) conundrum within an enigma inside a challenge.

General manager Jeff Bridich aggressively addressed the worst baseball bullpen (5.13 earned-run average, 28 blown saves). Greg Holland and Mike Dunn were added; Adam Ottavino is totally over Tommy John surgery, and Jake McGee, who pitched in the WBC, and Carlos Estevez should be improved. Chris Rusin has been bothered by a strained oblique, but he's value. The Rockies should swallow their pride and the guaranteed money and dump Bridich's bad hires of the previous offseason - Chad Qualls and Jason Motte.

The Rockies must begin the season with Desmond, Dahl and Murphy on the disabled list, and the three could miss most of April. Bringing back last season's starter at first, Mark Reynolds, proved to be smart; Geraldo Parra is hitting .357, and Tony Wolters .481, in the spring, and Trevor Story has returned from the torn thumb ligament to slam four home runs already. The "Tre-vor, Tre-vor'' chant is a solid substitute for "Tu-lo, Tu-lo.''

And the Rox pounded the world champions Saturday before a record crowd (13,565) at Talking Stick.

Perchance the Rockies could spring to a star-spangled season.

Comment Policy
Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Incognito Mode Your browser is in Incognito mode

You vanished!

We welcome you to read all of our stories by signing into your account. If you don't have a subscription, please subscribe today for daily award winning journalism.

Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Register to the Colorado Springs Gazette
Subscribe to the Colorado Springs Gazette

It appears that you value local journalism. Thank you.

Subscribe today for unlimited digital access with 50% fewer ads for a faster browsing experience.

Already a Subscriber? LOGIN HERE

Subscribe to the Colorado Springs Gazette

It appears that you value local journalism. Thank you.

Subscribe today for unlimited digital access with 50% fewer ads for a faster browsing experience.

Subscribe to the Colorado Springs Gazette

Some news is free.
Exceptional journalism takes time, effort and your support.

Already a Subscriber? LOGIN HERE

articles remaining
×
Thank you for your interest in local journalism.
Gain unlimited access, 50% fewer ads and a faster browsing experience.