Rockies hope early growing pains bear second-half fruit – Boulder Daily Camera
David Dahl, a 24-year-old outfielder, is one of the young and unestablished players the Rockies have been counting on this season. (John Leyba / The Denver Post)
DENVER — When it comes to the Colorado Rockies’ lineup this season, baptism by fire is the ritual that will cement — or perhaps sink — the team’s October goals.
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 in limited apperances, Castro, Wolters and Valaika have combined to hit .130 (19-for-146), and the five players have combined for just six home runs.
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 LaMatheiu — 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,