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Jun 14, 2024 3:47 am

Young players in spotlight as Pirates oppose Rockies

Nick Gonzales, pirates

The Colorado Rockies haven’t spent much time at home lately, playing 10 of their past 13 games away from Denver. They will get a chance to recover from the road when they open a 10-game homestand Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Colorado will send right-hander Ryan Feltner (1-5, 5.74 ERA) to the mound for the series opener. Pittsburgh had not named a starter as of Thursday night.

The Pirates are halfway through their six-game road trip that started in St. Louis. Pittsburgh dropped two of the three games against the Cardinals, including a 4-3 loss on Thursday.

The Pirates have stayed in the mix nearly 70 games into the season, going 6-5 in June so far. They have put faith in some young talent, most notably catcher Henry Davis and second baseman Nick Gonzales. Both players have had some struggles but are seeing signs of breaking out.

Davis hit his first home run of the season in Pittsburgh’s 4-2 loss to St. Louis on Wednesday, perhaps a sign that his month-long trip to the minors starting in early May might be paying off.

“Maybe the fact that that’s the first homer now, there’s a little sigh of relief,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said.

Gonzales was promoted May 10 after beginning the season with Triple-A Indianapolis, and he is hitting .306 with 23 RBIs in 29 games since being called up.

“I was really confident in the work I put in this offseason,” Gonzales said. “I knew I could go out to Triple-A and do what I can do and help the team.”

The Rockies, who have played .500 ball since an 8-28 start, are also relying on their young talent. Ezequiel Tovar has built on his breakout 2023 campaign and is hitting .293 with 11 home runs. The latest prospect to get a chance is Adael Amador, who made a splash by getting his first major league hit on the first pitch he saw Sunday against the Cardinals.

He has struggled since, managing just one more hit in 13 at-bats. Still, Amador, 21, and Tovar, 22, could be considered the cornerstones of the Rockies’ future.

Amador’s debut was due to necessity and where the Rockies are in the standings. Colorado has key players on the injured list, most notably Kris Bryant (rib) and Brendan Rodgers (hamstring), and sitting well below .500 is helping fast-track the focus on the future.

The Rockies might need to call up another player if catcher Elias Diaz doesn’t see improvement in the left calf strain suffered Monday night at Minnesota. Diaz sat out the next two games, but manager Bud Black is optimistic an injured-list stint won’t be required.

“Keith (Duggar, the head athletic trainer,) and the guys are optimistic,” Black said. “But as you know, calves are dicey.”

If Diaz isn’t healthy, Feltner likely will be pitching to Jacob Stallings in his second start of the season against the Pirates. He took the loss at Pittsburgh on May 5 after giving up five runs in 5 2/3 innings. Feltner is 0-1 with a 5.91 ERA in two career starts against the Pirates.

–Field Level Media

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