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2012 finish: 64-98, fifth place
Manager: Walt Weiss (first season)
The Rockies will ease the wear and tear on Helton by giving him more days off this season. The five-time All-Star is a lifetime .320 hitter but batted a career-low .238 in 69 games before having season-ending surgery on Aug. 10 to repair a torn labrum in his right hip. On the days the 39-year-old Helton sits, Cuddyer, Tyler Colvin or Jordan Pacheco will take his spot. A longtime franchise icon, Helton apologized and asked for forgiveness after getting arrested during the offseason in a Denver suburb and charged with drunken driving.
This time last year, Weiss was coaching his son’s high school baseball team. Now, the first-year manager inherits a Rockies squad that’s coming off a season in which they lost a franchise-record 98 games.
The team made no bold offseason moves to bolster the club, banking on bounce-back seasons from veterans coming off injuries instead. The Rockies have their leader back in Tulowitzki, who was sidelined in late May with a groin injury that eventually required surgery to remove scar tissue. They also are counting on De La Rosa rounding back into form. After winning 16 games in 2010, he was the team’s ace in 2011 before tearing a ligament in his left elbow. He made three September starts last year, hitting 94 mph with his fastball and giving the team optimism.
But he was rusty, posting a 9.28 ERA in 10 2-3 innings. Colorado is hopeful Chacin can develop into an ace after an injury-filled 2012. The Rockies just brought in Garland to help bolster their suspect staff. The 33-year-old right-hander missed the last 1Â½ seasons following shoulder surgery. He went 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in four starts for Seattle this spring and asked for his release after he was informed he wouldn’t make the Mariners’ starting rotation. To make room for Garland in their rotation, the Rockies sent Drew Pomeranz to minor league camp. The left-hander was a key piece in the July 2011 trade that sent Ubaldo Jimenez to Cleveland.
He’s Here: RHP Wilton Lopez, SS Reid Brignac, RHP Jon Garland.
He’s Outta Here: Manager Jim Tracy, 1B Jason Giambi, RHP Alex White, RHP Guillermo Moscoso, RHP Josh Roenicke, LHP Matt Reynolds, LHP Jonathan Sanchez.
Projected Lineup: CF Dexter Fowler (.300, 13 HRs, 53 RBIs, 12 SBs, 72 runs), 2B Josh Rutledge (.274, 8, 37), LF Carlos Gonzalez (.303, 22, 85), SS Troy Tulowitzki (.287, 8, 27 in 47 games), RF Michael Cuddyer (.260, 16, 58), 1B Todd Helton (.238, 7, 37), C Wilin Rosario (.270, 28, 71), 3B Chris Nelson (.301, 9, 53).
Rotation: RH Jhoulys Chacin (3-5, 4.43 ERA, 69 IP), LH Jorge De La Rosa (0-2, 9.28, 3 starts), RH Juan Nicasio (2-3, 5.28), LH Jeff Francis (6-7, 5.58), RH Jon Garland (missed last season following shoulder surgery; 1-5, 4.33 in 54 innings with Dodgers in 2011).
Key Relievers: RH Rafael Betancourt (1-4, 2.81, 31/38 saves), RH Matt Belisle (3-8, 3.71, 3 saves), RH Wilton Lopez (6-3, 2.17, 10 saves with Houston), LH Rex Brothers (8-2, 3.86)