In the fifth inning of Thursday’s game between the Rockies and Cardinals, a struggling Carlos Martinez drilled D.J. LeMahieu in the hip with his 95th pitch of the game. It looked like a purpose pitch, though nothing leading up to it had suggested anyone would want to be throwing at anyone. Whether it was intentional or not, Martinez’s immaturity showed when he walked off the mound and jawed with LeMahieu afterwards. Worse, after escaping the inning, Martinez directed an obscene gesture towards the Rockies dugout.
Fast forward two innings. Rockies reliever Christian Friedrich, in his first inning of work, got the first two batters he faced. He then sent his first pitch to Kolten Wong not only in his direction, but up near his head:
Fortunately, no real harm was done. Wong took the pitch off his shoulder and walked to first without incident. The incredible thing is that Friedrich was allowed to continue pitching, even though warnings appeared to be issued after the earlier incident.
Regardless, herein lies the stupidity of beanball wars. Whether Friedrich intended to go up there or put one in his ribcage, the end result could have ended Wong’s season or worse. He deserves a lengthy suspension, and manager Walt Weiss should also be banned from the dugout for a spell. It’s 2015. There’s no longer any place for these purposely dangerous acts in baseball, and it shouldn’t take a career being ended for MLB to do something about it.
The Denver Post’s Troy Renck reports that the Rockies have signed former first-round pick Chris Volstad to a minor league deal that will net him $1.5 million if he makes the team.
It has to be a disappointing outcome for the 26-year-old Volstad, who was originally acquired by the Royals this winter, only to be let go after the team found superior options elsewhere. While he does have a better chance of getting a rotation spot in Colorado than he would anywhere else, he doesn’t even land a major league contract here and he faces an uphill climb trying to rebuild his value in Coors Field.
Volstad debuted with the 2.88 ERA in 84 1/3 innings with the Marlins as a 21-year-old in 2008, but he’s been a disappointment ever since. Only in 2010, when he went 12-9 with a 4.58 ERA, was he close to being an average big-league starter. He went 5-13 with a 4.89 ERA in his last year with the Marlins in 2011 and 3-12 with a 6.31 ERA for the Cubs last season.
The Rockies are currently planning to go with Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa, Juan Nicasio and Jeff Francis as their top four starters, leaving Volstad, Drew Pomeranz, Christian Friedrich and Tyler Chatwood to battle for the fifth spot. According to Renck, the Rockies are still hoping to add one more veteran to the mix.
Troy Renck of the Denver Post says that the Rockies are interested in three pitchers:
The Rockies have interest in Jair Jurrjens, who plans to play in the WBC, and Derek Lowe and Brandon Webb, who’s expected to throw for scouts soon.
All three are gambles, of course. Jurrjens is coming off a horrific season and his health has been a question mark. Webb hasn’t pitched in years due to major injures. Lowe is healthy but obviously at the end of the line and, man, if that sinker didn’t sink at Coors Field, it would be ugly.
As Renck mentions, though, there are a lot of arms in the running for the Rockies’ rotation — He mentions Jorge De La Rosa, Jeff Francis, Jhoulys Chacin, Juan Nicasio, Drew Pomeranz, Christian Friedrich and Tyler Chatwood — so it’s not like the Rockies are banking on any of these three scratch-off lottery tickets to pay off.
The Rockies just aren’t having any luck with their starting pitchers. According to Thomas Harding of MLB.com, left-hander Christian Friedrich will miss the rest of the season due to a stress fracture on the right side of his lower spine.
Friedrich was was scratched from his scheduled start on Thursday due to back spasms, but hoped to return to the starting rotation Sunday. However, he continued to feel pain during a bullpen session yesterday and was sent for an MRI, which revealed the fracture.
Friedrich dropped off the radar in prospect circles in recent years due to a combination of injuries and poor performance, but he earned his first call-up to the big leagues in May after posting a 3.00 ERA and 27/4 K/BB ratio over his first five starts with Triple-A Colorado Springs. The 25-year-old southpaw allowed just two runs over his first two big league starts, but really struggled the rest of the way. He’ll finish off his rookie season with a 6.16 ERA over 16 starts. Among pitchers with at least 80 innings pitched, only former Rockie Jeremy Guthrie and Twins right-hander Nick Blackburn have a higher ERA this season.
Friedrich actually had pretty decent secondary numbers (7.9 K/9, 3.2 BB/9), but he was hammered to the tune of an 8.92 ERA over eight starts at home while serving up 10 homers in 39 1/3 innings. He had a 3.77 ERA in eight starts on the road. Coors Field is unforgiving.
The Rockies did a good thing:
After playing a game in Phoenix on Wednesday night, the Rockies arrived in Denver at about 3 a.m. Thursday. On the message board inside the clubhouse, a notice was posted asking for volunteers to meet with victims at the hospital.
Jim Tracy and 11 players showed up to visit the victims of last week’s Aurora shooting: Todd Helton, Michael Cuddyer, Eric Young Jr., Matt Belisle, Josh Roenicke,Christian Friedrich, Jordan Pacheco, Josh Rutledge, Rex Brothers, Drew Pomeranz, Adam Ottavino and Mike Ekstrom.
Tracy said that it would have been a bigger group but that since they were visiting the intensive care unit they had to limit their numbers.
Check out the story. Lots of good quotes from the players putting things in perspective.