Rockies Inside Pitch: 4/10/07

In this edition of Rockies Inside Pitch, the Rockies moved their record to 4-3 after a 6-3 victory against the Dodgers on Monday. Kaz Matsui continues to play well, as the Rockies are beginning to gain some respect within Major League Baseball. All that and more:

Jeff Baker views himself as an everyday player, but he knows that he isn't at the moment.

"The reality is the guys we have day in and day out are the core of this team," said Baker. "My job is to try and keep us from missing them when they do get a day off."

So far, so good.

After getting a home run, double and single in pinch-hit appearances in the season-opening series against Arizona a week ago and going 1-for-3 at San Diego in his first start of the year on Saturday, Baker took over on Todd Helton's first mandated day out of the lineup Monday and was a key part of the offense in a 6-3 victory at Los Angeles.

After Brad Hawpe's one-out double in the fourth, Baker tripled home Hawpe and then scored himself on a Troy Tulowitzki single, giving the Rockies a 3-1 lead.

He and Hawpe had back to-back singles with one out in the eighth, setting up the Chris Iannetta sacrifice fly that gave the Rockies a 5-2 edge.

The Rockies look at him as a legitimate run producer who can fill in at first, third, left field and right field and not force manager Clint Hurdle to create an imaginative lineup to compensate for a key offensive player getting a day off.

"He is like the sixth man in basketball for us," said Hurdle. "We haven't had a player like that before who we could say was available (off the bench) with thunder. It can make things a lot easier."

A key is that Baker accepts the role.

"I look at it that I'm playing baseball, and that's what I want to do," said Baker. "This is not about me. It's about winning as a team. If this is the role I'm best suited for and it helps the team win, then it's the role I want to have. I want to be part of our success."

Last Game:ROCKIES 6, DODGERS 3: Garrett Atkins homered and had two sacrifice flies, taking advantage of the speed of Kazuo Matsui and Willy Taveras, in the Rockies' 6-3 victory at Los Angeles. Matsui, in the fifth, and Taveras, in the ninth, both reached base on infield grounders and eventually sped to third to set up the sacrifice flies.


  • LHP Jeff Francis made his second strong start of the season Monday. Today, he could drop the appeal of his five-game suspension for throwing a pitch behind San Diego third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff during a spring training game. The incident came after Padres reliever Doug Brocail hit Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki with a pitch and then four days later hit Rockies LF Matt Holliday with a pitch.

  • Trainer Keith Dugger designed a proposed list of off days for 1B Todd Helton that were based on schedule considerations. Manager Clint Hurdle said the plan is for Helton to start 145 games in an effort to keep him fresher. The first day of rest was on Monday, although Helton did pinch-hit in the eighth inning of the Rockies' 6-3 victory at Los Angeles and then went in for defense. "It's always a point of contention with him when he is not playing," said Hurdle. "We want to make sure he has every opportunity to maximize his ability."

  • The Rockies received a little love from Giants broadcaster and former big-league pitcher Mike Krukow. Asked about the Dodgers offense during his Monday morning radio show, Krukow replied: "The Dodgers offense doesn't worry me," he said. "Nor do the Padres or Diamondbacks. The only offense that scares me in the West is the Rockies. That lineup has some big-time thump in it."

  • INF-OF Jeff Baker made his first big-league start at first base Monday. He had appeared defensively at first once -- last September, also against the Dodgers.

  • Dodgers 2B Jeff Kent, who ranks seventh among Rockies opponents with 32 home runs, and LF Luis Gonzalez, who ranks eighth with 31, were a combined 1-for-8. Kent singled in his first at-bat but struck out in his next two and flied out in the fourth one. Gonzalez took a third strike, ending the first inning with two men on, and grounded out in his next three at-bats.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 0 -- extra base hits for the Rockies at San Diego on Saturday and Sunday. They went without an extra-base hit in only seven games last season.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "What you don't want to do with a young player is let him get buried early. I learned that and learned that well from Don Baylor." -- Rockies manager Clint Hurdle on trying to protect rookie SS Troy Tulowitzki and C Chris Iannetta early in the season.

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