The Colorado Rockies are here at Wrigley Field as the Cubs play them for the first time this season. Ex-Cubs Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu are in the Rockies’ starting lineup. I had a chance to visit with Tyler. We’ll have a comment or two from him here and in the paper tomorrow.
We’ll also follow up on some things that we discussed on the last blog, particularly about the catching picture. Manager Dale Sveum said he’d continue to split time between Steve Clevenger and Welington Castillo.
Sveum also said Josh Vitters was going to get “a pretty good look” and that Vitters "is probably going to play as long as he proves he can do some things. He’s going to play 75-70 percent of the time anyway.”
Colvin bats sixth in Colorado’s lineup and LeMahieu eighth. They were traded last winter for Ian Stewart, a trade that’s not looking so great for the Cubs right now. Colvin is at 294/.333/.551 with 14 homers, 52 RBI, 78 strikeouts and 17 walks in 296 at-bats. LeMahieu is at .281/.305/.377. He’s been up a couple times with the Rox.
In 2006, Tim Wilken made Colvin the Cubs’ first draft pick, out of Clemson.
“When you sign, you have these dreams of staying with the team that drafted you for your entire career,” Tyler said this morning. "It’s just one of those things where I’m a Rockie now.”
Did the change of scenery help?
“Just to get some fresh ideas in your head and just be able to start with a clean slate,” he said. “Once I got traded, that’s the first thing they told me: Let’s get back to work and get back to the guy you want. That’s really helped out.”
Colvin added that he got caught up trying to hit for power last year.
Cubs lineup vs. lefty Drew Pomeranz:
I asked Sveum about where the two young catchers are in relation to where they were at the start.
“They’ve been introduced to something they’ve never been introduced to before," Sveum, said. “They’re trying to survive in the big leagues trying to learn how to call games and the videos, something that’s harped on. To be able to apply that in a game when you’re trying to survive in your first year in the big leagues -- hitting, throwing blocking, all those things -- it’s not the easiest thing to do.
“They’ve both come leaps and bounds from the beginning of the year, sticking to game plans and things like that.”
And if you like your “inside baseball” really inside, we’ve got more from Sveum on the catchers. Dig in:
“Especially going forward, now that they’re both very comfortable in the system that we’re putting in with the game plans and the game calling, that’s basically what you’re doing,” the manager said. “And ad-libbing, too, because we have such a diverse kind of pitching staff right now. We don’t have the veterans that can do a lot of things according to a game plan, either. A lot of times, you go into a game plan and a curveball’s the perfect pitch, but we don’t have any curveball guys. That becomes difficult, and they’ve got to learn how to adjust to that as well.
“Welly’s last seven games he’s caught, he’s been very, very good according to the reports we had. It’s understanding that if we pound a guy in with velocity, we might not be able to pound a guy in with 87 miles an hour. These are things that are still in the learning curve. That’s evaluation as much as anything. Swinging the bats is part of it, but that’s probably the last thing we’re evaluating right now.
“We put in a system they need to stick with because they’ve learned the hard was as we have sometimes about getting away from the game plan with guys that could follow the game plan, and it’s hurt us bad in some games, whether it’s 3-run homer or a 2-run double. So they’ve learned, ‘Don’t ad-lib when guys do have the capabilities of carrying out the game plan.'”
Class AAA Iowa fell 2-1 to Oklahoma City. Ryan Rowland-Smith worked 5 innings and gave up 3 hits and 2 runs in taking the loss. Recently demoted Jeff Beliveau struck out the side in 1 inning pitched.
Tennessee (AA) beat Chattanooga 5-4. Austin Kirk started and worked 4.2 innings, giving up 4 hits and 4 runs while walking five and striking out six. Justin Bour recorded his league-leading 109th RBI on a first-inning double. Trey McNutt got the win in relief with 1.1 perfect innings.
Daytona (A) lost its sixth straight, 3-0 at Clearwater. Rob Whitenack took the loss, working 3 innings and giving up 3 hits and 3 runs, 1 earned. He’s 1-6 with a 5.96 ERA. Kyler Burke tossed 3 scoreless innings of relief.
Peoria (A) won 6-1 at Beloit. Michael Jensen worked 6 innings of 2-hit, 1-run ball, walking none and striking out four. Zeke DeVoss hit his sixth homer, going 3-for-4.Jorge Soler (.333) was 1-for-4 with a double.
Boise (A) got 5 innings and a victory from Hayden Simpson, the team’s No. 1 pick from 2010. Simpson gave up 6 hits and 3 runs while walking two and striking out seven in an 11-5 win at Vancouver. Second baseman Stephen Bruno extended a hit streak to 14 games by going 2-for-5 with a walk. Albert Almora, this year’s top pick, was 4-for-5 with 2 doubles, 2 RBI and 3 runs.
Mesa (Rookie) got 5 in the 10th inning to beat the Diamondbacks 14-9. Dillon Maples had the line of the day: 1.2 innings, 0 hits, 4 runs, 4 earned runs, 4 walks, 1 strikeout and 2 wild pitches.