Notes: Pitching staff gets shakeup
Ortiz activated; rookie Morales to start Saturday in LA
LOS ANGELES -- The Rockies pulled into Los Angeles on Friday, facing 40 more regular-season games, bidding for their first postseason appearance in 12 years.In keeping with the 2007 season's twin themes of youth and roster shuffling, the club welcomed newly acquired right-handed starter Ramon Ortiz to the visiting clubhouse at Dodger Stadium. And as the Dodgers and Rockies took the field, left-hander Franklin Morales was en route from Triple-A Colorado Springs -- just in time to take the mound for Game 2 of the weekend series on Saturday night, his first Major League start. Morales barely got his feet wet at the Minors' top level, going 2-0 with a 3.71 ERA in 17 innings (three starts) at Triple-A. Before that, he went 3-4 with a 3.48 ERA at Double-A Tulsa.
"He's played all year long in a starting rotation," said manager Clint Hurdle. "This is the optimal time to give him experience that can't be garnered anywhere else. He'll start tomorrow, and we'll see where that takes us."
Word has filtered up that Morales' stuff is electric despite understandable command issues -- or, as Hurdle put it, "similar to Ubaldo [Jimenez] without the experience."
Asked about Morales' role in the Rockies' injury-riddled pitching situation, Hurdle said, "It'll put five men in our rotation for two turns," noting that the Rockies' bullpen combined for more than 15 innings (16 2/3 to be precise) in the last four games. "That's with [Elmer] Dessens in the rotation."
As for the arrival of Ortiz, who came from Minnesota in exchange for Triple-A infielder Matt Macri, Hurdle said, "We know he can give us some length. He gives us versatility and experience."
Ortiz won 11 games with Washington in 2006, and he was 4-4 with a 5.14 ERA with the Twins, who sent him to the bullpen for 18 relief appearances after a rough patch in which he went 0-4 with an 8.14 ERA in his last four starts.
"I thank God for the opportunity I have right now," Ortiz said prior to Friday's game. "I know this team can win. Everyone here knows we can win. I know how to win."
Hurdle said of Ortiz, "We've been scouting him for a long time. We tried to get him last year, but sometimes you've got to wait for a lull, then bring him in ... similar to [right-hander Jorge] Julio."
Dessens decent: Hurdle wasn't about to second-guess himself for having stuck with Dessens in Thursday night's loss to San Diego."I'm not very reactive to other people's opinions," Hurdle said, pointing out that the three-run home run Mike Cameron hit off Dessens in the sixth inning left the Rockies ahead 6-5. "I take the philosophy that if someone's second-guessing, it's taken him two guesses to get one right." Hurdle said Dessens would start Game 2 of a four-game series against the Pirates on Tuesday at Coors Field.
"Nobody really squared him up until Cameron," Hurdle said, elaborating on Thursday's loss. "Lefties really didn't barrel him up. ... He gives us experience. He's done this before."For his part, Dessens said, "I haven't thrown that much for a long time. I just tried to put the team in a situation to win. "[The pitch to Cameron] was very bad. I tried to throw a sinker away, but the ball ran up on the middle. It was a big mistake. I think it was the pitch that cost us the game because it started the winning rally." Dessens said he hoped his experience as a reliever over the past two seasons would help his outing against the Pirates. "When you have a tough time like [Thursday], you have to not think too much," he said. "... I just try to put everything I have into the game whenever they give me the ball." And as for his move from the National League Central-leading Brewers to the NL Wild Card-contending Rockies? "I don't want to think about the race," Dessens said. "But you can feel the guys are excited." If you're scoring at home ... To make room on the 40-man roster for Dessens, the Rockies placed right-hander Darren Clarke on the 60-day disabled list. Next up: Morales makes his Major League debut on Saturday night at 8:10 MT as he goes against Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley (7-4, 3.54 ERA).
Ted Brock is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.