Rock­ies con­fi­dent in young catch­ers

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Pa­trick Saun­ders Pa­trick Saun­ders: psaun­ders@den­ver­ or @psaun­der­sdp

When the off­sea­son be­gan, I thought the Rock­ies would be shop­ping for a vet­eran catcher, a la Nick Hund­ley or Yorvit Tor­re­alba back in the day. How­ever, ev­ery­thing I’m hear­ing from gen­eral man­ager Jeff Bridich and new man­ager Bud Black tells me the Rock­ies are con­fi­dent in the baby-faced tan­dem of Tony Wolters and Tom Mur­phy, both rook­ies in 2016.

“Talk­ing to our guys, they are high on Mur­phy and Wolters,” Black said. “High on their makeup, their ap­ti­tude, their work ethic, what they be­lieve in, what they need to do to help our pitch­ers.

“They are young, no doubt about it. But (catch­ing coach/bench coach Mike Redmond) and I, and our pitch­ing coaches, we’ll give them ev­ery­thing we can to make them the play­ers they can be.”

That doesn’t rule out the pos­si­bil­ity of the Rock­ies sign­ing a vet­eran to come into spring train­ing, but bring­ing in a catcher is not a high pri­or­ity right now. In fact, the Rock­ies could be look­ing at a pla­toon sys­tem be­hind the plate in 2017.

Mur­phy still needs work be­hind the plate, but he can mash from the right side. In 21 games af­ter get­ting called up from Triple-A Al­bu­querque in Septem­ber, the right-hand­ed­hit­ting Mur­phy hit .273 (12-for-44) with five homers, 13 RBIs and a 1.006 OPS (on-base per­cent­age plus slug­ging per­cent­age).

Lefty-hit­ting Wolters was in­ef­fec­tive at the plate in the first half of the sea­son, bat­ting .215 with a .296 on­base per­cent­age. Af­ter the all-star break he hit .321 with a .374 OBP. And, al­most to a man, the pitch­ers raved about Wolters’ game-call­ing and his re­ceiv­ing skills be­hind the plate.

Wolters, the con­verted in­fielder who’s gen­er­ously listed at 5-foot-10, 200 pounds, is not big for a catcher. He ended up play­ing in 71 games for Colorado, but could he han­dle the load of play­ing 100-plus game as the pri­mary catcher?

“I can han­dle it. Yes, I’m light and that’s a good thing,” he told me on the fi­nal day of the sea­son. “I haven’t felt this good since 2012 be­fore I started hav­ing knee prob­lems. My (left) knee feels re­ally good. Men­tally, yeah, I’m a lit­tle bit tired, but phys­i­cally I’m in a re­ally good spot. I hon­estly be­lieve I could catch 110 games in a sea­son.”

Good­bye, DLR.

Jorge De La Rosa, the win­ningest pitcher in fran­chise his­tory, is a free agent now and has told teams he’s will­ing to be a multi-in­ning re­liever. But don’t ex­pect the Rock­ies to try to re-sign the 35-year-old left-han­der.

Tues­day evening, I asked Bridich if the Rock­ies have said good­bye to De La Rosa.

“I hate to com­pletely shut that door,” he said, but then added that De La Rosa is not part of the club’s plan right now.


Lefty Boone Lo­gan, now a free agent af­ter three un­even sea­sons in Colorado, is be­ing con­sid­ered by sev­eral teams. Bridich said he has been in con­tact with Lo­gan since the end of the sea­son but did not in­di­cate that the Rock­ies are at­tempt­ing to re-sign him. … Car­los Gon­za­lez will play for Venezuela in the 2017 World Base­ball Clas­sic, but Bridich isn’t sure if the club will al­low Gon­za­lez to com­pete in win­ter ball as a tuneup for the World Base­ball Clas­sic.

Rock­ies catcher Tony Wolters tags out the Chicago Cubs’ Jorge Soler at the plate at Wrigley Field last sea­son. Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images file photo

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