MIAMI -- The Rockies' decision to keep six outfielders leaves manager Walt Weiss with a playing-time challenge, but making it work will depend largely on how left-handed-hitting outfielders Corey Dickerson and Charlie Blackmon hammer out their roles.
They'd be used as occasional starters, but the success of the roster configuration will depend largely on how one or both of them perform off the bench. It's the only way to justify having to divide playing time among six outfielders, four of whom -- Dickerson, Blackmon and right-handed hitters Drew Stubbs and Brandon Barnes -- are vying for starts and playing time in center field.
Dickerson had the stronger spring, with a .344 batting average and .500 slugging percentage, to Blackmon's .236 and .364. If the starts are based on spring performance, Blackmon could forge a role as a pinch-hitter -- and his history suggests he could do just that.
Last season, Blackmon hit .350 (7-for-20) with two doubles and three home runs in games in which he was a substitute. He hit .308 with a .400 on-base percentage in 15 plate appearances as a pinch-hitter. Even if he doesn't get the starts, Blackmon believes he can produce.
"It's a mindset," Blackmon said. "That's the team saying, 'Hey, we want you in this spot at this time. That's a big deal to me. I take it very seriously and really lock it in. I prepare before the game for that situation.
"I don't know exactly what they're going to do, but Walt's done a great job of making sure everyone's sharp and gets the at-bats they need. I have confidence in him that he's going to get it done. It shows he's got confidence in us to put us on the team."
Blackmon has been around for parts of three seasons and has learned about coming off the bench. It was an area the Dickerson had to learn last year in his first big league action. Dickerson hit .267 as a substitute and .238 as a pinch-hitter. He had no walks, however, in the pinch-hit at-bats.
Dickerson's hot spring makes him a logical choice to start at times, but he also worked on being ready in situations off the bench.
"I do what I do before the game when I start; that's the routine I go with," Dickerson said. "I have success with that. I don't think doing extra helps. Sticking to the routine when you start, I think you'll be fine. But when you're not starting then you go do cage work and try to do too much, I find it gets in the way."
Chatwood's status for first start uncertain
MIAMI -- Rockies right-hander Tyler Chatwood, who sustained a left hamstring strain Friday during his last Spring Training appearance, threw a side session on Sunday, but whether he'll make his first scheduled regular season start on Wednesday against the Marlins is uncertain.
The Rockies will evaluate Chatwood again on Monday. If he doesn't make the start, the club will place him on the 15-day disabled list.
Chatwood sustained the injury while running the bases Friday night against the Mariners at Peoria, Ariz. Although Chatwood said Saturday he felt good and shouldn't miss a start and reported feeling fine after Sunday's session, the Rockies weren't committing to anything.
If Chatwood needs to go on the disabled list, the team likely will go with righty Jordan Lyles, who pitched well in camp (0-1, 3.18 ERA, 12 strikeouts, six walks in five games), but was edged out for the fifth starter slot by lefty Franklin Morales. Lyles last threw in a Spring Training game on March 22. He threw informally at the Rockies' complex in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Saturday.
Also, righty Juan Nicasio, who will start Thursday against the Marlins, threw at the Rockies' complex on Sunday to stay on schedule.
Lachemann reflects on over 50 years in baseball
MIAMI -- For Rockies catching coach Rene Lachemann, who had four Major League managerial stints, Monday's opener against the Marlins will be his 51st in professional baseball.
Lachemann, 68, recalled his very first one as a player, although not for anything that happened on the field. The Kansas City Athletics signed him as an amateur free agent out of the University of Southern California, since there was no Draft in those days. Lachemann did Spring Training in Daytona Beach, Fla., and wasn't sure where he would begin his pro catching career.
Lachemann recalled, "They had socks -- red socks for Triple-A, blue socks for Double-A, green socks for B ball, I think it was. Lewiston [Idaho] was B. Then Daytona Beach had yellow socks and Burlington, Iowa, had purple socks. I had every pair of socks there was in Spring Training. I ended up in Burlington, had a pretty good year and went to the big leagues the next year.
"I remember we had a day off before going to Burlington. I went and laid out on the beach and got terrible sunburn. Then we took the train from Daytona Beach to Burlington, Iowa, and I had blisters on my back and was in all kinds of pain. The game was probably against Quad Cities. I don't recall what happened in the game, but Opening Day is always special."