'Happy with core,' Rox stand pat at Deadline
Colorado looks to make late-season run at playoffs without major trade
ATLANTA -- Trapped between the extremes that lead teams to make major moves at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Rockies didn't make any deals on Wednesday.
"We're painfully right in the middle," said Rockies senior vice president of Major League operations Bill Geivett. "We're happy with our core group of players, excited about some of the things we've seen on the mound and knowing that we're healthy as a group of position players, we're happy. And some of the younger guys are settling in. When you look at all that, we're certainly not in a position to sell.
"At the same point, we can't legitimately say right now we're a probable playoff team. That's the next level for us to get to. Being in a situation where you're mortgaging your future to potentially get into the playoffs is not the most prudent course of action."
Teams can still make deals, but must expose players to waivers first. If a deal occurs beyond the non-waiver Trade Deadline, the player must be on his new club by Aug. 31 to be eligible for the postseason roster.
Had the Rockies been in better position than 51-57 -- 7 1/2 games behind the National League West-leading Dodgers -- they could have justified attempting to acquire bullpen help. But they weren't going to turn seller and trade veteran outfielder-first baseman Michael Cuddyer or starting left-handed pitcher Jorge De La Rosa.
Instead, the Rockies held steady, hoping Cuddyer and De La Rosa could be part of a dramatic late-season playoff run or at least be part of next season's club. De La Rosa's contract has an $11 million club option to 2014. Cuddyer is due $10.5 million next year, the final year of a three-year, $32.5 million deal, at age 35.
With veteran first baseman Todd Helton expected to retire at season's end, the Rockies are expected to go for a power bat at either first base or in the outfield in free agency or the offseason trade market.
Reports were that the Indians and Red Sox had inquired about left-hander Josh Outman, but nothing came of it.
With starting pitching at a premium, the Rockies might have received multiple young players for De La Rosa. But the difficulty the Rockies have had developing starting pitching is a factor in the club not taking offers for him now and most likely bringing him back for next season. The Rockies are in better shape than expected, with De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin and Tyler Chatwood pitching well, as well as Juan Nicasio having justified the Rockies' hopes for him in three of his last four starts.
"After all the things that went wrong last season [when pitching injuries were a factor in a 64-98 finish], the pieces are coming together with the emergence of some of the younger guys," Geivett said.
De La Rosa (10-5, 3.21 ERA) was happy with not having to pack.
"You get nervous when you see your name out there, but hopefully I will be here for many more years," De La Rosa said.
De La Rosa is a rare pitcher who found his big league footing pitching his home games at Coors Field, after not being able to gain traction with the Brewers and Royals, as well as pitching in the D-backs and Red Sox chains and in Mexico.
"I learned how to pitch there, I've pitched in a lot of games there, and I love pitching there," De La Rosa said. "I always tell people I love pitching there. It makes me be more focused. It's a challenge, and I like those things."
Outman (2-0, 4.42 ERA), who attracted interest as a late-game reliever or left-handed specialist, said he followed reports on the web. He didn't move to a team at the top of the standings, but he hopes the Rockies find their way there.
"There's no reason this team right now can't get hot, go on a nice winning streak and be right back in the mix," Outman said.
Rox prospect Bettis tabbed for MLB debut
ATLANTA -- By backing off the effort pedal, right-handed pitching prospect Chad Bettis, ranked ninth in the Rockies' system by MLB.com, found himself moving speedily toward the Rockies' rotation.
Bettis, 3-4 with a 3.71 ERA at Double-A Tulsa, will make his Major League debut Thursday night against the Braves at Turner Field.
In the grand scheme, the progression has been quick for Bettis, 24,a second-round pick in the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Texas Tech. But Bettis might have made the Majors last year had he not suffered an early right shoulder injury that cost him the entire season.
Bettis maintains a jerky delivery. At the suggestion of Joey Eischen, who was Bettis' pitching coach at Tri-City in 2010 and continues to work for the Rockies at Class-A Asheville, Bettis has simply dialed down the effort that goes with all that motion.
"[Eischen] told me 80 percent is what I need to pitch at, and let it unfold," Bettis said. "I dialed down a little bit, and also I added a pitch, a slower curveball, just to get better separation on the pitches."
Bettis also throws a slider and a changeup, with the changeup being his best pitch.
The Rockies did not give Bettis a chance to make the team out of Spring Training because they wanted him to prove his shoulder was healthy. Bettis started the season strong until injuring a left oblique muscle in May. Since his return, most of his starts have been stellar.
"They told me I was on the radar, go out there, have fun and don't worry about when I might get the call, because that's not in my control," Bettis said.
Before last season, Bettis was projected as a reliever, and possibly the teams' next closer. But the Rockies like power arms in their rotation. The last starter that skipped Triple-A was righty Juan Nicasio, who threw hard and dominated at the Double-A level.
"I can see doing either of them because of what I did in college," said Bettis, who began his collegiate career as a starter, moved to the bullpen, then struck out 102 his junior year as a starter before being drafted. "I prefer to be a starter, but whatever helps us here win ballgames, that's what I'll do."
• Duke University head football coach David Cutcliffe and several Duke equipment managers visited the Rockies' clubhouse before Wednesday night's game. Cutcliffe was quarterbacks coach at the University of Tennessee when Todd Helton was a quarterback there. Cutcliffe also was head coach at Ole Miss when former Rockies outfielder Seth Smith, now with the Athletics, was a quarterback there. Cutcliffe also worked with Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning at Tennessee and Giants quarterback Eli Manning at Ole Miss.
• The Rockies moved Charlie Culberson from the infield to the outfield at Triple-A Colorado Springs before calling him to the Majors. But Culberson, a Rome, Ga., native who had plenty of family and friends at Turner Field, made his first Rockies start at second base. Culberson committed an error on the first ball hit to him, by Braves leadoff hitter Jason Heyward.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.