Redman to start Rockies' home opener
Backup outfield and bullpen opportunities remain up for grabs
TUCSON, Ariz. -- The Rockies announced that veteran left-hander Mark Redman will start the home opener April 4 against the D-backs. They also withheld announcing their decision for the fifth outfield spot, which left the door open to reward Scott Podsednik with a job based on his strong Spring Training.
Through a flurry of moves and announcements on Wednesday, the Rockies are down to the outfield spot, which will go to either Podsednik or Cory Sullivan, and one bullpen spot, which will go to left-handed non-roster candidate Micah Bowie or righty Ryan Speier.
The Rockies closed their home slate at Hi Corbett Field after Wednesday's 11-8 loss to the D-backs. They'll play the Angels in Tempe on Thursday and the D-backs on Friday night at Chase Field. The roster must be set on Sunday, the day before the regular-season opener against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
Redman received a rotation spot over right-hander Josh Towers. Left-hander Franklin Morales will get the fifth spot. In reality, Redman came the closest to winning a spot -- he had no walks in six Cactus League games -- but it was more that he and Morales were picked over Towers, because none of the candidates were lights out.
Redman went 2-2 with a 7.23 ERA in the Cactus League. On Wednesday, before manager Clint Hurdle made the announcement, Redman gave up nine hits and seven runs -- six earned -- in a Minor League camp game against Double-A Tulsa. He also issued a rare walk.
Redman joined the Rockies last September, went 2-0 with a 3.20 ERA in five games, including three starts, and helped the club into the playoffs. Although he didn't appear in the postseason, he impressed the Rockies with his steadiness in the clubhouse.
The Rockies will start the season on Monday with left-hander Jeff Francis, then right-handers Aaron Cook and Ubaldo Jimenez in the next two games against the Cardinals.
"As we move forward in the season, we split up the two young hurlers [Jimenez and Morales] with a guy who has shown he can have volume innings," Hurdle said. "It'll be less taxing on the bullpen.
Towers actually had a similar spring to Redman, with a 7.20 ERA and, and nine strikeouts to two walks in Cactus League play. In a Minor league game on Wednesday, Towers gave up four runs on eight hits, with six strikeouts and one walk -- not much different from what Redman did. Bottom line, the Rockies know Redman better.
"People look at things differently," Hurdle said. "You don't get many chances for a first impression, and nobody came out of the blocks real clean. So when you put that into play, you look at what you know about people. He was more of an unknown than the other two guys.
"We like the fact he's pitched in a tough division. Hopefully, with more volume of pitches, he can be sharper."
Now Towers must clear waivers, which expire Friday, and agree to go to Triple-A Colorado Springs. His contract calls for a $400,000 salary there, and he would forfeit that and have to negotiate with a new team if he were to refuse assignment.
Towers and righty reliever Jose Capellan, who missed much of the spring with an ankle injury, are on waivers. Both will begin 2008 in the Colorado Springs starting rotation.
As for the final two roster spots:
Bowie, almost spotless early but not as much so recently, could have an inside track for two reasons. The Rockies don't have a left-handed specialist -- Brian Fuentes is a late-game setup man, not a situational pitcher -- and Speier can be sent to Colorado Springs without being exposed to waivers. Hurdle said the club has a "plan in place," but did not announce it.
Sullivan played well in a reserve role late last season. Podsednik, signed to a Minor League deal just before camp, had to prove he was healthy after two years of injuries and show he could play defensively. Podsednik is batting .333 with a .500 on-base percentage, and has been adequate in all three spots.
Sullivan has hit .237 this spring, but his forte is defense. Sullivan can be sent down, but his $1 million salary could leave the club attempting to make a move rather than have him at Colorado Springs at that price.
The Rockies officially gave second baseman Marcus Giles his unconditional release, reassigned non-roster catcher Humberto Cota to Minor league camp, and optioned outfielder Seth Smith, infielder Omar Quintanilla and third baseman Ian Stewart to the Minors.
The moves mean Clint Barmes and Jeff Baker have earned utility jobs. The Rockies announced earlier this week that rookie Jayson Nix has won the second base job, which meant there was no place for Giles. The Rockies could not work a trade.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.