The Colorado Rockies 2018 Opening Day roster came into greater focus on Saturday when the organization optioned 23-year-old David Dahl to Triple-A Albuquerque.
Dahl, who turns 24 on April 1, entered Spring Training with hopes of returning to the major league roster, where he played 63 games in 2016. A rib and subsequent back injury suffered last spring shelved Dahl for most of 2017; he compiled just 77 at-bats between Lancaster and Albuquerque last season.
He started 2018 Cactus League play 0-for-15, but rebounded to earn 17 hits over for his next 47 at-bats for a .274 average, overall. His five home runs and 18 RBIs led all Rockies in Spring Training, but were not enough to earn him a stay in big league camp.
Also factoring into the club’s decision to send down Dahl was a strong spring from Mike Tauchman, who made his first major league appearance in 2017 with Dahl on the shelf.
Tauchman, 27, is hitting .345 entering the final two games of the spring.
The fourth outfielder on Bud Black‘s Opening Day roster will be either Tauchman or Raimel Tapia, whose 92 games of MLB experience between 2016 and ’17 are the most among the trio that was competing for that spot.
However, Tapia may also start the season in Albuquerque. He hit just .250 this spring and did not show the base-running development the Rockies have wanted to see from the 24-year-old speedster.
Black will have one other roster spot available for a position player beyond his fourth outfielder, so he could keep both Tauchman and Tapia. Gerardo Parra, although back in action, is still recovering from a hand injury suffered earlier this spring, which could motivate Black to keep another outfielder on the roster.
23-year-old corner infielder Ryan McMahon could also get the nod for Black’s final bench spot. McMahon had a strong showing this spring and could provide insurance for another bench player, Pat Valaika, who missed time with an oblique injury earlier in the year.
Pitching Staff Decisions Also Loom
On the pitching side, Black’s rotation appears set.
Jon Gray made a maintenance start Saturday (3.0 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 1H) that sets him up to start on Opening Day, March 29 in Arizona.
Antonio Senzatela, who won nine games by June 16 last season before his workload was dialed back (he finished with 10 wins), has been impressive this spring and could squeeze his way onto the roster in the bullpen and to be available as a starter.
Black has said will carry eight pitchers in his bullpen, and six of those seem set. Wade Davis (closer), Bryan Shaw, Jake McGee, Chris Rusin, Mike Dunn and Adam Ottavino won’t sweat these final days before the opener.
Oberg seems unlikely to be the odd man out; he ranked second behind Mike Dunn in 2017 with 66 appearances. Estevez is in his final option year, while Rosscup is out of option years.
The Rockies open the 2018 campaign on Thursday in Arizona.