Bullpen, offense solid in Rockies’ spring training opener

Baseball is back. Sort of. The Colorado Rockies began spring training on a high note Saturday by beating the Arizona Diamondbacks 8-4 at Salt River Fields.

Ian Desmond, the Rockies’ $70 million man, had a strong debut for the team, going 3-for-3 with an RBI and a stolen base. He played at first base, which is new to him, but had no errors in the game.

Tyler Anderson was the starting pitcher for the Rockies, but was roughed up early and chased after allowing three runs, five hits and a home run in one and one-third innings. He told Steve Gilbert of MLB.com after the game that he had a difficult time controlling his excitement for returning to the diamond. Fans can surely relate.

By far the biggest bugaboo for the Rockies last season was the inconsistent play of the bullpen. While the first spring training game is nothing to write home about, the pen did perform phenomenally. Matt Carasiti was credited with the win after he replaced Anderson in the second inning and retired two batters to get out of the inning. Antonio Senzatela followed Carasiti and pitched two scoreless innings for the Rockies, allowing only two hits and striking one out.

Jordan Lyles, Scott Oberg and Miguel Castro pitched an inning each and held the Diamondbacks hitless throughout their appearances. Lyles struck out two of the three batters he faced while Castro had one strikeout and one walk. Sam Moll allowed one hit and pitched a scoreless eighth, and Jerry Vasto secured the win after allowing a run in the ninth.

The Rockies potent lineup gave fans reason to be excited for the upcoming season. Last year’s rookie sensation Trevor Story announced his return in a big way with a home run off of Archie Bradley in the fourth inning, giving him his only RBI in the game. Gerardo Parra had two RBIs, while Nolan Arenado, Desmond, Tony Wolters and DJ LeMahieu joined Story with one.

It’s foolhardy to read too much into preseason performances, especially when only one game has been played. However, the performance of the bullpen in the game is a ray of light for Rockies fans. The pen allowed one run in seven and two-thirds innings in a seven man effort, all without the big name free-agent signing Greg Holland.

A larger sample size is needed to gain any real confidence in the Rockies 2017 bullpen, but the important thing at this moment is that the baseball withdrawals are over. The Rockies will have two split-squad games tomorrow, one against the Diamondbacks and one against the Chicago White Sox.

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