Notes: Rockies shake up the lineup
With offense struggling, Taveras sits while Tulo moves up
DENVER -- After a wait of 15 days since his last game appearance, Cory Sullivan will get the start in center field in a game Rockies fans have been awaiting for 15 years.
Rockies manager Clint Hurdle, after seeing his squad score a mere two runs while losing the first two games of the World Series at Fenway Park, sat leadoff man Willy Taveras for Game 3 at Coors Field, the first home Series game in franchise history.
Sullivan replaced Taveras in center field. Second baseman Kazuo Matsui moved from the second spot to leadoff, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki moved from No. 7 to No. 2, catcher Yorvit Torrealba moved up one spot to seventh and Sullivan slid in at No. 8.
Sullivan appeared in all three games of the National League Division Series against the Phillies, going 1-for-2. He had just one at-bat in the National League Championship Series against the Diamondbacks. Sullivan, however, felt prepared for the possibility of Series jitters.
"I think the games that we played toward the end of the season prepared us over and over for this," Sullivan said. "Our backs were against the wall. I'm just trying to do my job and help the team win a ballgame."
Taveras, who missed much of the season's final month and the NL Division Series with a strained right quadriceps, is 0-for-7 with a hit-by-pitch and a run scored in the Fall Classic. Taveras never gained his offensive footing in the NLCS, either.
Manager Clint Hurdle said Taveras was not wholly to blame for the poor offensive start. Tulowitzki entered Game 3 hitting .212, Todd Helton .182, and Garrett Atkins .171 in the postseason. But Hurdle said the team needed a change, so he went to the lineup he used much of the time while the Rockies won 21 of 22 to make it to the World Series.
"I felt it's time to try a little something different," Hurdle said. "Unfortunately, Willy's the odd man out. But Willy's not the cause of the offensive problems. When you look to make changes and not try to reinvent the lineup, we were going to revisit a lineup that's had success.
"Look at the reasons why we're here. To try and rearrange the furniture is one thing. Totally trying to remodel a house is another."
The Rockies are facing right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka in Game 3. Interestingly, going with the left-handed-hitting Sullivan is not playing the percentages. During the regular season, lefties hit for a lower average against Matsuzaka, hitting .238 to right-handers' .253. Lefties hit more homers, 14-11, but that's not a factor for Sullivan, who has eight career homers.
But the right-handed options weren't viable. Ryan Spilborghs started the first two games at designated hitter and went 0-for-5. Jeff Baker is 2-for-3 in limited postseason duty, and is a corner outfielder.
He doesn't have to like it: Taveras, who said he hasn't been missing pitches by much, certainly didn't want to sit, but he didn't complain.
"What can I say?" Taveras said. "It is what it is. We're just trying to win a ballgame.
"Placido Polanco [of the 2006 AL champion Tigers] did not get a hit the whole World Series, and he played in every game. But I'm not trying to make trouble. I'm just the unlucky guy that got taken out of the lineup, and I can get into the game."
Hurdle said being in a National League park means Taveras has a chance to be a factor.
"That was part of the discussion that I had with him," Hurdle said. "'You're not going to start this one. Who knows who will finish? Who knows who will be involved along the way?' When you have good players, you have more options, and we have players that can help us win games off the bench, getting spot starts, picking people up when they're injured."
From a new vantage point: Manuel Corpas, the father of Rockies closer Manny Corpas, was on the field at Coors on Saturday preparing for the first time seeing his son pitch since he signed a pro contract.
The father said it's been tough finding his son's games on regular television in Panama because telecasts there are "Yankees, Yankees, Yankees. No Rockies." The Yankees, of course, have star closer Mariano Rivera, a Panamanian.
But the Rockies have been on during the playoffs, and Corpas Jr. has been the talk of the country. On Saturday night, "Nobody's on the street, everybody will be watching the game," his father said.
The dad will be with his son for the rest of the Series.
Asked about Corpas' calm demeanor, which has been one of his best traits, the father used a Panamanian term that translates into "chicken blood." Evidently, the chickens there handle pressure well.
What time is it? Saturday's is the first World Series game played outside the Eastern or Central zones since 2002, which the Angels and Giants played entirely on Pacific Time.
Also, Coors Field is the 51st ballpark to play host to the Series.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.