As the Rockies brace for potentially unwelcome news on both second baseman Brendan Rodgers and lefty Lucas Gilbreath, they’re perhaps already giving fans a preview of one contingency plan. With Rodgers out indefinitely and possibly facing season-ending surgery, Colorado is deploying third baseman Ryan McMahon at second base today and giving former top prospect Elehuris Montero the start at third base. This is obviously just one permutation that the lineup could take if Rodgers is indeed lost for the season, as there are alternate options at both third base (Kris Bryant, Nolan Jones) and at second base (Alan Trejo). Non-roster invitee Harold Castro can play both spots (though defensive metrics view his glovework at both positions in a negative light). Rodgers was going for a second opinion on his shoulder yesterday after reportedly receiving an initial recommendation of surgery. The Rox should have further updates on his status before long.
More from the division…
- Turning to the Rockies’ pitching staff, they’re facing a somewhat uncertain rotation picture to begin the season with righty Antonio Senzatela still rehabbing from last year’s torn ACL. Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes in his latest mailbag that the target for Senzatela’s return is still sometime in May — as was reported last month — but Saunders provides a less-optimistic outlook on southpaw Ryan Rolison, who had shoulder surgery last June. Rolison is still “weeks away” from pitching in a game setting, which likely takes him out of the running to make starts for the club early in the 2023 season. Righty Peter Lambert, however, is healthy and has already made one Cactus League appearance after a generally lost pair of seasons in 2021-22. Lambert underwent Tommy John surgery in 2020, pitched just 18 innings in 2021 after recovering, and was limited to only 8 2/3 innings in 2022 due to a forearm injury and renewed elbow troubles. If he’s healthy, the former No. 44 overall draft pick (2015) could factor into the Colorado rotation early, alongside German Marquez, Kyle Freeland, Jose Urena and (likely) Austin Gomber.
- New Giants outfielder Michael Conforto has been limited to DH work so far, but he expects him to be full-go by Opening Day, writes Jon Heyman of the New York Post. Conforto tells Heyman that his surgically repaired shoulder is back to full strength, but he’s still working to regain the accuracy on his throws from the outfield. More notably, perhaps, Heyman reports that the official diagnosis of the previously nebulous injury that prompted Conforto to undergo surgery and miss the 2022 campaign was a “capsule fracture” in his right shoulder. Conforto notably suffered a dislocation and capsule tear in his left shoulder back in 2017 as well. He returned from that injury and went on to hit .261/.365/.478 over a three-year span (2018-20) before stumbling to a .232/.344/.384 output in 2021, his last healthy season.
- Veteran lefty Cole Hamels, angling for an age-39 comeback with his hometown Padres, is slated to throw his third bullpen session of spring training today, per Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The goal is for roughly 35 pitches. Hamels and the Padres are aiming for the lefty to be built up to around 45 pitches before he begins facing live hitters, so there’ll likely be one more ’pen session in the coming days before he takes that step. Meanwhile, veteran outfielder Adam Engel has been slowed by a calf strain and has yet to get into spring games. Engel, 31, figures to be San Diego’s fourth outfielder if he’s healthy enough to take the field come Opening Day. Manager Bob Melvin indicated last week that Engel wouldn’t play in the first week of spring games, but the team hasn’t provided a formal update on his status since.