A few days ago, the sky was falling down on the 2017 Colorado Rockies. One-by-one the team lost David Dahl, Chris Rusin, Chad Bettis, Ian Desmond, and Tom Murphy within a two-week span, all players expected to give heavy contributions in the upcoming season; a season in which the Rockies felt primed to contend.
And while they still were moving forward with a roster that was improved upon from the year prior, this is not the start any team wants in a season where they are trying to topple the mighty Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants.
But a few days have passed, MRI’s and X-Ray’s and surgery (for Desmond) and reevaluations are now out of the way, and it appears possible that the Rockies could be back to full strength by the end of the very first month of the season.
As we reported this morning, Bud Black told the media before the game that he expects Desmond could be back by the end of April. Not just for going through drills, but for actual full game participation. He noted that Murphy should return in the same time frame and reiterated that both Rusin and Dahl could — and likely will — be back in the first week.
Of course, the Bettis news still stings for a myriad of reasons far beyond the realm of baseball, but all told, the Colorado Rockies look like they may be able to weather this storm, especially if it can rage and pass in the first month of 2017.
Interestingly enough, the injuries have provided some extra opportunities and everywhere you look, there are players taking advantage of them. No Desmond for a bit? Jordan Patterson and Stephen Cardullo are having phenomenal spring training campaigns. No Dahl? Gerardo Parra is in full rebound mode and Raimel Tapia remains as exciting as ever. Need a backup catcher with Murphy out? Dustin Garneau is hitting .375/.500/.938. That isn’t a typo, he is really slugging .938 and has a pair of doubles and a three-run home run since learning of the Murphy injury.
And Cristhian Adames, who can back up pretty much everywhere, might be having the best spring of them all.
All qualifiers of small sample size, spring training, and the like apply, but there is no negative way to look at the way these players have responded when called upon. It should almost certainly build on their confidence moving forward and allows the club to gain confidence in them as well.
Injuries are never good, but the silver lining here is that a lot of guys who needed to get an opportunity and to show they can hang are doing both. The biggest downside to all of this remains Desmond not being able to use these exhibition games to gain a comfortability level at first base.
But now, once you add in the extra reps these guys are getting to prove themselves to the relatively quick timetables for return for the starters, you’ve got yourself a small window where the Rockies need to “tread water” while employing a group of hungry (mostly young) players working their asses off to prove themselves. April may not be as ugly a month for this club as it first seemed it would be.
If you’re going to miss 4-6 weeks, ideally a few of those weeks will take place while the club is still playing games that don’t count in the standings. And that is right where the Colorado Rockies find themselves. Moving forward, they still have a dramatically improved roster from a year ago, and all kinds of reinforcements appear to be arriving before the beginning of May.