SAN DIEGO — When it comes to the Rockies’ lineup this season, baptism by fire is the ritual that will cement — or perhaps sink — the team’s October goals.

Because while the continued maturation of a young rotation, as well as the health and production of the team’s stars — Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, DJ LeMahieu and Trevor Story — is also critical, the fact remains that manager Bud Black is putting serious faith in a handful of young, unestablished players to provide sparks for a slow-to-get-going offense.

That grouping within the Rockies’ 25-man roster includes one true rookie in 26-year-old outfielder Noel Cuevas, plus an array of second- or third-year guys in outfielder David Dahl, 24, infielder Pat Valaika, 25, catcher Tony Wolters, 25, and infielder Daniel Castro, 25.

Though Cuevas (12-for-40, .300) and Dahl (17-for-57, .298) are off to decent starts at the dish, Castro, Wolters and Valaika have combined to hit .130 (19-for-146), and the five players have lacked in collective power so far with just six homers among them.

But none of those struggles raises major concerns for Black, especially considering no one in that quintet is a regular starter. Cuevas and Dahl have been platooning at the corner outfield spots with veterans Gerardo Parra and Carlos Gonzalez, Wolters is the backup catcher to Chris Iannetta, and Valaika — recalled Monday because of a thumb injury to LeMahieu — has also been used mostly in a reserve role.

“They’re understanding the difference between a big-league pitcher and a minor-league pitcher in a pinch-hit at-bat (and in intermittent starts),” Black said. “They’re going through growing pains, and you learn from these situations. This is not anything they’re not gaining from. Even though the statistical performance is not there for some, they’re growing as players, and they’ll be better off for it.”


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