The Rockies reported to summer camp Friday at Coors Field and manager Bud Black was pleased with what he saw.
The manager said that the players were “maybe even in a little better (shape) than what the coaches and I thought they would be.”
The Rockies also are, apparently, in relatively good health regarding the coronavirus. Three players, all-star outfielder Charlie Blackmon and pitchers Phillip Diehl and Ryan Castellani, had all previously tested positive for COVID-19. But Black said that all of the players on the Rockies’ 52-man player pool — with the exception of Blackmon — are expected to practice Saturday when the team holds its first full-scale workouts.
Black added that Blackmon will have plenty of time to prepare for his job as Colorado’s starting right fielder before the 60-game season starts on July 23 or 24. Blackmon is also expected to see time as a designated hitter this year.
Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Union announced Friday that 31 players tested positive for the virus, and said that seven staff members also tested positive. The 38 positives represent 1.2% of 3,185 samples collected for the first set of results.
The Rockies took the field in three waves Friday, led by their pitchers.
“It was a good day’s work on a day that we didn’t know, based on the testing protocols of the last three days, whether we were going to be able to do that based on getting the results back,” Black said. “The results came back and we were able to assemble the players in quick fashion and they responded (outstandingly).”
Veteran outfielder Matt Kemp, who signed a minor-league deal with the Rockies this week, is in good shape, according to Black. Kemp, 35, played one season under Black in 2015 when Black managed San Diego.
“I can tell you that he’s excited to be a Rockie,” Black said. “He’s super pumped to be with this organization and with this group of guys. We talked a little bit about expectations, and his expectations line up with ours, which is great.”
If Kemp can make the team, he projects as a designated hitter and a right-handed bat off the bench.
Practice plans. Black said that live batting practice featuring Rockies starting pitchers could begin as soon as Sunday. As it looks now, right-handers German Marquez, John Gray, Antonio Senzatela, Chi Gonzalez and Jeff Hoffman, along with lefty Kyle Freeland, will all get early work against live hitting.
Right-hander Peter Lambert, whose spring training was curtailed because of forearm tightness, is on a tighter leash.
“Lambert is in that group that will probably take it a little slower,” Black said.
Clubhouse rules. A number of teams, including the Boston Red Sox, have made renovations to their ballparks in order to accommodate players and provide social distancing due to the coronavirus. At Boston’s Fenway Park, the Red Sox converted a number of luxury suites into mini-locker rooms, with each room accommodating two players. Fenway opened in 1912 and its clubhouses are among the smallest in all of professional sports.
The Rockies have no such problems at Coors Field. They will be utilizing both the home and visitors clubhouses, a large utility room, and a large media area for dressing, training and meetings. The club is also utilizing the home and visitors’ weight rooms, bullpens and batting cages.