Giambi likely among limited Rox callups
Colorado expected to bolster pitching with roster expansion
SAN FRANCISCO -- September could be called Rockies manager Jim Tracy's time of year.
When the Rockies meet the Mets on Tuesday to open a three-game series at Coors Field, there will be more of them. Rosters can expand to a limit of 40.
In 2004, when he managed the Dodgers to a surprise National League West title, Tracy was the master of the expanded roster.
Tracy used left-handed relievers Scott Stewart and Mike Venafro, specifically to deal with then-Giants slugger Barry Bonds and other dangerous left-handed hitters the Dodgers faced down the stretch. He also took the unusual step of using three catchers. Brent Mayne and David Ross were the defensive catchers, and he'd switch one of them out for offensive catcher Tom Wilson.
"As I look back on 2004, we don't win the Western Division had not the opportunity been there to bring guys up in the Minor Leagues in September," Tracy said.
Tracy did not reveal which players will be called up, but some players can be expected to be options.
The Rockies already have their speed option in Eric Young Jr., who was called up when center fielder Dexter Fowler went on the disabled list last week. Fowler is due to return on Sept. 8, so speed early and late will be covered.
They'll receive a left-handed power bat in former MVP Jason Giambi, who is regaining his swing at Triple-A Colorado Springs. Giambi was released by the woebegone Athletics in August, but has plenty of big-game experience with that club and with the Yankees.
Paul Phillips, who hit .310 during a June stint with the Rockies, could allow Tracy to revisit having three catchers. Currently, Yorvit Torrealba is providing more offense than Chris Iannetta. Phillips proved a good-enough receiver and a hitter Tracy was comfortable using in hit-and-run situations.
But the biggest moves will involve pitching.
Almost certainly, one callup will be left-handed reliever Randy Flores, who was sent down after an up-and-down stint with the Rockies earlier this season. Flores, who underwent shoulder surgery after last season with the Cardinals, has looked fully healthy throughout August.
Flores pitched two-thirds of an inning with a strikeout Sunday for Colorado Springs. Since Aug. 2, he has thrown 12 1/3 scoreless innings in 13 appearances. In his last 14 games, he has 17 strikeouts against one walk.
The Rockies are likely to call their top pitching prospect, Jhoulys Chacin, a 21-year-old right-hander who had a brief stint with the Rockies earlier this season. He is 1-2 with a 5.23 ERA since the demotion, but in one of them he started a combined no-hitter. He can pitch in relief or make a spot-start.
An intriguing possibility to add big-game experience is right-handed starter Russ Ortiz, who is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two games, including one start, since signing with Colorado Springs. Ortiz could stay with the Sky Sox beyond Tuesday to help with that team's playoff drive and join the Rockies later.
Not to be forgotten is righty reliever Joel Peralta, who is 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA in his last 16 games for the Sky Sox. Peralta had a brief hot period with the Rockies, then struggled before being sent back to Colorado Springs.
Not wanting a full dugout is one reason the Rockies want to limit the callups. Also, Colorado Springs and Double-A Tulsa are fighting for playoff spots.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.