MESA, Ariz. • Justin Lawrence thought his catcher was just being polite when he offered him the ball after Panama won its first game of the World Baseball Classic.
It wasn't until later that night that he realized the historic significance of that token: that keepsake was from the country's first-ever WBC win.
"I was like 'oh, didn't know that. Maybe I should have kept the ball,'" Lawrence told The Denver Gazette from his locker at Salt River Fields. "He was really excited when I gave it to him, so it's all good."
The atmosphere in Taiwan during the tournament was similar to a college football game, Lawrence said, with cheerleaders on the dugout and a robust crowd reacting to every pitch. Panama, competing in Pool A, went 2-2 but failed to advance to the next round because of tiebreaker rules. Nonetheless, the team left the tournament proud of their performance, especially its win over Italy.
Lawrence is just at the start of his major league career, and if all goes as planned will have many more milestones ahead of him. This tournament was different, though — it was a chance to represent his family, who stayed up at all hours of the night to watch him play. And it was for his Panama teammates, most of whom are already out of affiliated ball. For some, these games were their last chance to play the sport they love.
"It really brings it together what it meant to some of these players," he said. "It was a really special moment to see those guys — how happy they were."
Germán Márquez, pitching in his second spring training game on Tuesday night against the Cubs, fanned seven in four innings of work. He was so solid, in fact, that he had to go to the bullpen after to get his pitch count up to 60.
"I feel like everything is working," Márquez said from Sloan Park after his start. "Today was really good."
This spring, he's been focused on staying behind the ball and not dropping his fingers. He's hopeful that by keying in on that, he can hit his locations more consistently, something he wasn't able to do last season. He ended 2022 with a 4.95 ERA, well above his expectations.
The Rockies can let out a sigh of relief.
Kris Bryant, who was a late scratch on Monday due to a stiff back, is expected to be just fine. Manager Bud Black anticipates that Bryant will be back in the lineup on Wednesday when the Rockies face the Dodgers. Bryant played in just 42 games in 2022, spending the majority of his first season with Colorado on the injured list with a back strain and plantar fasciitis.
In other injury news, Brendan Rodgers (labrum), Sean Bouchard (bicep) and Lucas Gilbreath (Tommy John) all had successful surgeries. Rodgers and Bouchard are likely out for the entire season, while Gilbreath is out for at least a year.