Notes: Carroll ready for NLCS
Utility man eager to contribute any way he can
DENVER -- Jamey Carroll saw action in one inning during the Rockies' three-game sweep of the Phillies in the National League Division Series.Yet Carroll, a utility man, stays prepared to have an impact against the Diamondbacks in the Championship Series, which starts on Thursday at 6:37 p.m. MT. Such is Carroll's role. Manager Clint Hurdle uses Carroll as a pinch-runner and for defensive purposes. He also trusts him with the bat late in games. Often, the assignments are the type in which he fades into the background if he succeeds, but if he's not successful, he's front and center. "It's probably why I have high blood pressure," Carroll quipped with a smile. "Actually, over time, I realized that I have to be this way or I'm not able to play this game. One thing I've learned is to control my emotions and go into games in these situations. "I turn my thoughts from being nervous and being tentative to, 'Let's have some fun with this. Let's be aggressive and see what happens.' It's fun to do. It's a challenge." Carroll, 33, has been steady, playing regularly at second base, shortstop and third base, with five appearances in the outfield. He had just two errors at second and two at third. To illustrate the pressure of the role, one error nearly cost the Rockies their season. In the 9-8 victory over the Padres in the Wild Card tiebreaker, Carroll took a hard bouncer from Scott Hairston off his chest while playing third base and bounced the throw to first for an error to lead off the 11th inning. But he started a double play to end the frame. "It was big for two reasons -- one, it got us out of a jam, and, two, it got me a chance to redeem myself because we shouldn't have been in that situation in the first place," Carroll said. "I still had a chance to pick it up and throw him [Hairston] out. "I'm just thankful for that opportunity to make a play."
On Aug. 11, the Rockies trailed the Cubs, 2-1, in the sixth when Carroll knocked a pinch-hit grand slam that propelled the club to run away, 15-2. But that pales in comparison to his redemption against the Padres in his mind."I've always said I'd rather strike out with the bases loaded than make an error in a game," said Carroll, who has nine home runs in 580 regular-season games with the Expos/Nationals and the Rockies. "At this stage, with my role on this team, for me, I'll take that double play any day." New strategy, same attitude: Right-handed reliever Matt Herges, rejected by all of baseball until the Rockies gave him a Minor League contract just before Spring Training, qualified for the Triple-A All-Star Game while at Colorado Springs and was proud of that. But the Rockies called him up before he could make the trip to Albuquerque. Since then, Herges, 37, has proved he's still Major League. Herges went 5-1 with a 2.98 ERA during the regular season and earned two key outs in his only NLDS appearance, the clincher. But it's not accurate to say Herges has turned back the clock to, say, 2003, when he was a key reliever with the Giants' playoff squad. Formerly a power pitcher, Herges has reinvented himself. "My nature is brute force and ignorance, full-bore, but it was not cutting it," Herges said. "So I took my lumps quite a bit to figure out I need to be a finesse guy. "I need to outthink them. I need to outlocate them. Basically, the confidence is the biggest thing. I have confidence right now." The leader returns: Hurdle returned for the squad's workout on Tuesday at Coors Field after going home early Monday because he was suffering from flu-like symptoms. When standout left fielder Matt Holliday arrived, he wasn't sure if his manager was there. "Obviously nobody wants to be sick right now," he said with a smile. "I don't know if he's here or not, but I'm going to steer clear." On the four-day layoff between vanquishing the Phillies and facing the Diamondbacks, Holliday said, "It feels a little funny. Practice feels almost like another All-Star break."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.