SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A hard rain washed out the Rockies’ Cactus League opener vs. Arizona on Saturday, but it wasn’t all gloomy news.
Manager Bud Black said top infield prospect Brendan Rodgers is ahead of schedule in his rehab from shoulder surgery. The Rockies initially predicted that Rodgers wouldn’t be able to return until May.
“If he continues to progress at the rate he’s progressing, he’s going to be back sooner than I think we anticipated,” said Black, who earlier in camp had said he hoped Rodgers could compete in Cactus League games as a designated hitter. “(Trainer) Keith (Dooger) is really encouraged about where he is right now.”
Rodgers, 23, debuted last May, hitting .224 with no home runs in 25 games for the Rockies, but he did slash .350/.413/.622 with nine homers and 21 RBIs for Triple-A Albuquerque in 37 games.
Last July, Rodgers underwent labrum repair surgery, and he admitted he was worried about his baseball career. For more than a month, he couldn’t lift his arm above his head.
“It was a crazy surgery,” he said. “I was in a bad place for a little bit, but I’ve come a long way and I’m happy with where I’m at right now. I was shocked, for sure, on how the long recovery was going to take, but I’m on pace, in my eyes, if not even a little bit ahead.”
Hoffman’s up. Right-hander Jeff Hoffman, who was supposed to start Saturday’s game, will take the mound Sunday when the Rockies play the Angels at nearby Tempe Diablo Stadium. Hoffman, who has been working on a new delivery, is expected to pitch two innings.
Hoffman, who is competing for a spot in the starting rotation, could have pitched a side session Saturday but Black said the Rockies wanted to see Hoffman pitch in a game situation.
The Bard. Right-hander reliever Daniel Bard, who signed a minor-league deal with the Rockies on Friday, has made a good first impression.
“Our reports from a workout that happened a few days ago were outstanding, from our scouts” Black said. “Yesterday, he got the uniform on and went out and played some catch, and our coaches were very excited about the arm action looked.
“Now, it was just playing catch, but this a guy, when he was playing well, had really good stuff for the Red Sox. Good movement on the fastball and the ability to spin the ball.”
Bard’s bouts of wildness drove him out of the majors in 2013, and he was a mental skills coach with Arizona for the past two years.