Stomach ailment delays Lucroy’s debut
Jonathan Lucroy’s Rockies debut will have to wait.
About 45 minutes before Tuesday night’s game against the New York Mets, the club’s new starting catcher was scratched because of a stomach ailment. Veteran backup Ryan Hanigan started in Lucroy’s place.
Just a couple of hours before he was scratched, Lucroy expressed his excitement about joining a Rockies team that is holding onto a National League wild-card spot.
“It’s a breath of fresh air,” Lucroy said of his sudden arrival in Colorado, “even if the air is a little thin. I’m excited. I’m ready to give everything I can.”
Lucroy, 31 was acquired in a nonwaiver deadline trade with Texas on Sunday night. Tony Wolters, 25, who started 58 games for the Rockies this season, was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque to clear a spot on the 25-man roster for Lucroy.
Lucroy, now wearing jersey No. 21, is the Rockies’ catcher for one primary reason: experience. In manager Bud Black’s eyes, that is the great separator when it comes to big-league catchers.
“We feel like we are getting a veteran catcher who’s been battle tested in August and September with other teams in pennant races,” Black said. “We feel like he can help us, especially going with our young starters, like we are. I think there is a comfort in that, for all of us — most importantly the starting pitchers.”
Lucroy has played 930 games and gained a reputation as a catcher who commands the field and directs pitchers with a firm hand. After a season full of trade speculation, Lucroy was thrilled to land with a contender in Colorado.
“This is my third time going through it, my second time being traded,” Lucroy said. “Rumors and talk, a lot of it is conjecture. You never know what’s true and what’s not. But it worked out great. I’m happy to be here and happy to contribute the best I can.”
Lucroy, an all-star for Milwaukee in 2011 and Texas in 2016, is a career .280 hitter, with 94 home runs and 445 RBIs. He has struggled this season, batting .242, with 15 doubles, four home runs and 27 RBIs in 77 games. Long considered one of the best pitch framers in the game, defensive metrics have ranked him as one of the worst this season.
Black, however, believes the Rockies got the man they wanted, and needed.
“You look at the ranking of the best catchers in the game, and he was right there with the best of them,” Black said. “He was up there with the (Buster) Poseys and (Yadier) Molinas and a couple of other guys. Jonathan Lucroy was right there in the mix.”
Black shot down the idea that the numbers downgrade Lucroy as a catcher this season.
“There are a lot of numbers, but here’s the deal: I don’t buy into that,” Black said. “What I’m seeing this year, that’s what I got. This guy can catch.” Footnotes. Left-hander reliever Jake McGee, on the disabled list because of tightness in his middle back, said he’s feeling much better and expects to start throwing again soon. … Albuquerque infielder Ryan McMahon was named the PCL player of the week for the second time since June 1. Last week, he batted .520, with two homers, two doubles, a triple and eight RBIs.