The National League West, a hub of competitiveness this season, added a new dimension Tuesday when the Arizona Diamondbacks traded three prospects to the Detroit Tigers for right-handed slugger J.D. Martinez. Not only did the D-backs add a potent bat, they kept one away from the Rockies.
Martinez, who owns baseball’s fourth-best OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) at 1.018, adds another impact bat to a lineup that already ranks seventh in the majors in runs.
The Rockies and general manager Jeff Bridich, meanwhile, remain focused on another facet of the game.
“Any team or general manager is always looking for an opportunity to upgrade his club,” Colorado manager Bud Black said. “And Jeff and his guys are doing everything they can to make that happen.”
Black, a former pitcher, smiled and admitted he is not shy about being greedy in asking for more pitching. And Bridich on Tuesday said in a radio interview that he is looking for “some kind of assistance to our bullpen.”
Said Black: “Rest assured, our guys are doing their due diligence. You know what we like? Good players. Pitchers included.”
Freeland to start. Rookie left-hander Kyle Freeland will start Sunday against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Coors Field in his first game in the rotation since a near-no hitter July 9 against the visiting Chicago White Sox. After the all-star break, Freeland appeared in a three-inning relief outing last week against the Mets at New York.
“My body feels good. My arm feels good. They wanted to give me a little extra time,” said Freeland, 24. “I got a little rest. And it will be nice to continue to get a little rest.”
Skipping Freeland’s turn in the rotation follows a Rockies pattern this year as they try to extend the health and length of four rookie starting pitchers. Antonio Senzatela, 22, on Tuesday returned to the rotation for his first start since June 22. In the interim, he made three relief appearances and one start in Triple-A. German Marquez, 22, who struck nine in a win Monday, started the season in the bullpen. And Jeff Hoffman, 24, began his year in Triple-A.
Black said Freeland might get another breather soon. With Tyler Chatwood (strained calf) and Tyler Anderson (knee surgery) on the disabled list, their options are currently limited.
“When we look at them, there might be different points in the season when an extra days rest or a skipped turn in the rotation might be advantageous for any starting pitcher,” Black said.
Tapia down. Rookie outfielder Raimel Tapia was sent to Triple-A to make room on the roster for Senzatela, a decision that was not easy to make, Black said. Tapia was hitting .314 in 40 games, including a healthy .369 on-base percentage.
“Tough one,” Black said. “He was instrumental in a number of our wins. We like the fact he comes to the park with energy and a smile on his face. He loves to play. He’s about winning. I told him, ‘This is part of being a young player on a team with established veteran guys.’ I expect at some point he could return to help us win games.”
Those veteran players include Carlos Gonzalez, who returned to the lineup Tuesday, but was hitting .214 in a season-long slump.
Footnotes. Utility infielder Alexi Amarista started at third base in place of Nolan Arenado, who was given a breather. … Chatwood played catch Monday and ran around the outfield Tuesday while recovering from a strained calf… Chad Bettis threw 2 2/3 innings in his second rehab outing for Double-A Hartford, giving up three hits and one earned run, with three strikeouts, over 46 pitches. He cruised through two innings on 20 pitches before allowing a home run and a double in the third.
Padres LHP Clayton Richard (5-9, 4.75 ERA) at Rockies RHP Jon Gray (2-1, 6.23), 1:10 P.M. Wednesday, no TV; 850 AM
Gray regained the top spot in the Rockies’ rotation last week, starting their first game after the all-star break in New York. And he struggled, giving up eight runs in just two-plus innings of work. After missing 77 days with a broken foot, Gray has only six starts in this season. And his sideways outing in a loss to the Mets nearly doubled his ERA. When he’s on, Gray is Colorado’s best strikeout thrower. Richard has allowed 142 hits this season, most in the National League. — Nick Groke, The Denver Post
Friday: Pirates RHP Trevor Williams (3-4, 4.69) at Rockies RHP Jeff Hoffman (6-1, 4.33 ERA), 6:40 p.m., AT&T SportsNet
Saturday: Pirates RHP Chad Kuhl (3-6, 4.85) at Rockies RHP German Marquez (7-4, 4.34), 6:10 p.m., AT&T SportsNet