Saturday, July 11, 2009

Rockies Lose A Veteran Pitcher And Clubhouse Leader

The Colorado Rockies lost more than a game on Friday night in Denver, they also lost one of their veteran clubhouse leaders.

The only thing louder than the thunder echoing throughout the ballpark was the deafening thud of the baseball hitting Alan Embree’s leg in the seventh inning.

The ball was hit so hard off of Atlanta’s Martin Prado’s bat that Embree had no chance to react. The ball hit him just above the ankle.

Embree attempted to get up and chase the ball, but immediately fell back to the ground. When the dust had settled, Keith Dugger, the Rockies trainer, rushed to the mound along with the entire Rockies infield and Jim Tracy.

The best way to describe the injury was the body language of shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. After seeing the damage, Tulowitzki walked away from the mound, pacing near third base. He could be seen biting the top of his glove, clearly in disgused over the injury.

The Rockies training staff carted Embree off the field, and while the sound of the ball off the leg told the story, the gritty Embree looked as if he would be ready to do wind sprints before Saturday’s game.

The diagnosis came back ugly, a broken leg that will require surgery to potentially add a rod into his leg on Saturday. Embree is done for the year.

While Embree has been up and down so far in 2009 on the field, he has been anything but that in the clubhouse.

The 39-year-old veteran provided a calming force in the clubhouse. He is extremely liked and knows that baseball is a game where if a player does not have the ability to forget about yesterday and worry about tomorrow than they will never make it.

For Embree, the fact is he may have thrown his last pitch in the big leagues. He is 39th on the all-time list for appearances by a pitcher and proved to be a valuable asset to every single team that he played with. He won the World Series with Boston in 2004.

The Rockies, already in desperate need for bullpen help, now have another need to fill. The short-term solution is to and Embree’s roll over to Randy Flores, who was decent early, but struggled as of late.

The injury may force lefty Franklin Morales into a few late inning situations.

The day started poor early with Ubaldo Jimenez giving up a two-out, two run double in the first inning, and the offense going 1-2-3 against the Derek Lowe special sinker ball in the first.
The Rockies have now lost the last four starts by Jimenez, something that they will most certainly have to change if they have any hope of postseason play.

The offense tried to rally in the eighth, but Todd Helton and Brad Hawpe both struck out to leave the runners in scoring position.

It may have simply just been one of those nights for the Rockies. The club tries to right there wrongs on Saturday night. Game time is 6:10 PM on FOX Sports Rocky Mountain, and 850 KOA on the radio side.

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