The Denver Post - - SPORTS - Nick Groke, The Den­ver Post

CLEVE­LAND» As the Rock­ies con­tinue to jug­gle the bot­tom half of their lineup, look­ing for sparks of prom­ise from strug­gling slug­gers, the top half has been set in place. The linch­pin is Ger­ardo Parra in a sur­pris­ing spot.

Parra, hardly a slug­ger in the tra­di­tional sense, with 71 ca­reer home runs in nine sea­sons, has taken over the cleanup role in Colorado’s top-heavy lineup, one spot be­hind Nolan Are­nado and just ahead of Mark Reynolds.

Parra’s eight home runs this sea­son are not nec­es­sar­ily a threat to clear the bases, but his .355 av­er­age en­ter­ing Tues­day, with 50 RBIs, pressed man­ager Bud Black to bump him up in the or­der.

“We’re getting our best hit­ters at the top of the lineup,” Black said Tues­day be­fore the Rock­ies faced Cleve­land to start a fiveg­ame road trip. “Is he the pro­to­typ­i­cal cleanup hit­ter? Maybe not. But is he hit­ting .350 and knock­ing in runs and driv­ing the ball and giv­ing us good at-bats? Yes.”

Parra’s as­cen­sion also gives the Rock­ies an ad­di­tional left-handed bat in a run-pro­duc­ing spot, with lead­off Char­lie Black­mon the other. Parra has re­lieved some pres­sure from strug­gling slug­gers Car­los Gon­za­lez and Trevor Story near the bot­tom of the or­der. On Tues­day, Gon­za­lez (.228, seven homers) hit sev­enth and Story (.227, 15 homers) hit ninth.


In a two-game in­ter­league se­ries in an Amer­i­can League city, Black planned to call on rookie Raimel Tapia and Gon­za­lez as des­ig­nated hit­ters. Tapia (.298, two homers) filled the role Tues­day. “He’ll be like a caged lion in be­tween at-bats,” Black said. Gon­za­lez will DH on Wed­nes­day when they switch spots and Tapia starts in the out­field.

Black con­sid­ered giv­ing Black­mon and Parra a day off from de­fense, but they talked their way into full-time ap­point­ments.

Des­mond slowed.

In­jured out­fielder Ian Des­mond, out since July 26 with a strained right calf, will re­quire a longer re­cov­ery than the Rock­ies ini­tially es­ti­mated, Black said. “This is go­ing to turn out to be a lit­tle longer than we thought,” the man­ager said. “A re­hab could be in the works. We’ll talk about that. Can’t give you a date.”

More in­jury up­dates.

Left-han­der Kyle Free­land (left groin strain) played catch and did agility work on the field Tues­day. He will run at full speed Wed­nes­day. “We’re very en­cour­aged,” Black said. Lefty Tyler An­der­son (knee surgery) will throw a bullpen ses­sion Wed­nes­day, the first in his re­cov­ery.

Bay­lor re­mem­bered.

The Rock­ies on Tues­day hung a No. 25 jer­sey in their vis­i­tors’ dugout to honor Don Bay­lor, the club’s first man­ager, who died Mon­day at the age of 68.

Black, a for­mer pitcher, re­mem­bered Bay­lor from the field.

“He was an old-school tough guy,” Black said. “There was a tough­ness to him that was real. There was a pres­ence to Don that was felt on the field, whether he was in the game, around the cage, from the other dugout. You knew he was around.”

Bay­lor, the AL MVP in 1979, was hit by 267 pitches in his 19year ca­reer, now fourth-most all time. He was 10-for-31 in his ca­reer against Black. Black hit him four times.

“He stood right on the plate. He was a men­ac­ing hit­ter,” Black said. “And he was a gen­tle­man with a lot of class and dig­nity.”

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