Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Rocky Road For Club If Street is Out

Spring Training injuries are as common as the morning sunrise. Everyday there is a new one.

When athletes are actually million dollar investments, there is no reason to push a player who has a bump or a bruise. Six weeks of Spring Training is usually plenty of time to get ready for the everyday grind of the season. If a player feels a twinge in a hamstring, they will sit.

Most of the time the injury is so minor that had it occurred in a regular season game, the player never would have left the game. In Spring Training however, they will rest for two or three days.

With that in mind, recently inked closer Huston Street had a sore shoulder a week and a half into camp. He blamed it on pushing too hard in the offseason and throwing off a mound when he usually holds off until camp. No big deal, rest seemed to be the best remedy.

The problem now for Street and the Rockies is that after resting, the problem has returned.

Street reportedly felt great after throwing a bullpen session on Monday, and batting practice on Tuesday. That all changed when he started throwing on Wednesday morning. The problem was back, prompting the Rockies to send Street to get an MRI on his shoulder.

In all likelihood, the news means that the Rockies will starting the season with their closer on the disabled list. That means that someone from the bullpen is going to have to step into that role. There are several candidates, but none of them look promising.

Rafael Betancourt is dealing with shoulder stiffness of his own, Manny Corpas, the club's closer in '07, has been hit hard and showed up to camp out of shape, and Franklin Morales, who stepped into the role late in '09 when Street hit the DL, is suspect at best when it comes to the mental side of finishing a close ball game.

Despite their depth at nearly every position, this seems to be their weakest link. If Street is out for any large amount of time, the Rockies are going to have to dig deep and find a way to not rely on a late-inning pitcher to deliver in a role that they are unaccustomed to.

For what it is worth, the Rockies should give a shot to reliever Matt Daley. The right-hander was undrafted out of college and had to prove his worth at every level. He had a good rookie campaign, posting a 4.24 ERA in 51 innings pitched. The fact that he has had to fight his way not just into the big leagues, but into every next step in the minors shows that he has a mentality capable of defying the odds.

Regardless of who gets the ball in the ninth inning for the Rockies, none will be as dependable as Street, and right now every Rockies fan is holding their breath hoping that the MRI turns out negative.

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