MIAMI -- Spring Training statistics don't say much in and of themselves. But it's possible they speak volumes about Rockies center fielder Drew Stubbs.
The toolsy Stubbs, acquired from the Indians last winter, has hit for power (22 homers in 2010) and provided speed (70 steals in 2009 and 2010), but has struggled to get on base (.310) and has high strikeouts (729 in 632 games).
"When you come back after spending three or four months off, it takes a little time to get your timing back, but as spring progressed, I was able to do that and come out of there feeling good," said Stubbs, who made his first Rockies start Tuesday night against the Marlins.
The at-bats are available in the leadoff spot, although Stubbs has not been the on-base type that functions well in that top spot during his career. But after spending the last couple of years experimenting with a leg kick and a toe tap, Stubbs has forgotten the mechanics and just hit with his athletic ability. By the end of spring, Stubbs was lining pitches because he was loading his legs into the swing properly.
The strikeouts are a concern he is trying to correct, since it means he would need good contact and good luck whenever he makes contact to have a decent OBP. But because he has power potential, he believes it would be counterproductive to be a slap hitter.
"At the end of the day, getting on base is all that matters," Stubbs said. "You try to limit strikeouts as much as you can, but you don't want to place so much emphasis on it that it takes away from the rest of your game. As long as you are getting on base and you are getting a productive at-bat, things take care of themselves."
Stubbs has well-celebrated issues with right-handed pitching in recent years. For example, he hit .216 with a .275 OBP against righties in 2013. But this spring, he hit .276 with a .344 OBP against righties, and manager Walt Weiss started him against Marlins hard-throwing righty Nathan Eovaldi on Tuesday.
In the opener, Weiss started left-handed-hitting Charlie Blackmon (0-for-4). There will be starts for left-handed-hitting Corey Dickerson and right-swinging Brandon Barnes. In the case of Tuedsay, Weiss said righties do decently against Eovaldi.
"That played into it, but it's gong to be a fluid situation early on, and we'll see who takes it [center field] and runs with it," Weiss said. "But [Stubbs] has that elite skill on the defensive side of the ball, and that certainly helped.
"I saw better at-bats [as the spring progressed]. He had some things he was working on specifically this spring -- the small game and doing those things. He was in a good place by the time we broke camp."
De La Rosa, Rosario to clear up confusion
MIAMI -- Rockies left-handed pitcher Jorge De La Rosa vowed to work out the communication issues between him and catcher Wilin Rosario before his next start, on Saturday at home against the D-backs.
They talked at the behest of manager Walt Weiss after a five-run fifth inning -- De La Rosa's last of the night -- that was complete with contentious mound visits in the Rockies' 10-1 Opening Night loss to the Marlins on Monday night. The two met again Tuesday. On Wednesday, they'll work things out in their own pitcher-catcher way.
"I'm going to throw a bullpen [session], and he's going to call all my pitches tomorrow," De La Rosa said.
They simply have to settle whatever differences they have, which always arise when a runner is on second base and they try to change the signs. Even if they have crossed signals, De La Rosa can't let the outing deteriorate. He was down 2-0 when the trouble started Monday, and by the end, he was saddled with five runs in 4 1/3 innings. It was not what the Rockies were seeking from their No. 1 pitcher, for whom the club picked up an $11 million option for this year to keep him away from free agency.
Because of the rough defensive stats Rosario has had the first two seasons of his career, after he was called up from Double-A, he is roundly criticized as the problem, although the Rockies -- and the pitcher, himself -- laid more of the blame for Monday on De La Rosa losing his temper and letting his outing go haywire.
"I was mad at myself," the lefty said. "I got confused. Then he said he got confused, too. We both got confused. I never get mad at anybody.
"Everybody thinks I'm mad at him. I don't try to show up anyone. I told him before the game if I do something, I'm not trying to show him up. But people are going to think those things."
And although the two had problems the last time they worked together in Spring Training, forget simply having De La Rosa throw to someone else.
"Wilin's our catcher," Rockies pitching coach Jim Wright said. "Without him in our lineup, we suffer a little bit [offensively]. They'll work it out. They'll figure it out. It will not be a Steve Carlton-Tim McCarver type thing or Greg Maddux and his personal catcher. That's not going to happen.
"The whole thing with pitching is you have control of the situation. The situation cannot control you."
Rosario said it's simply a matter of practice.
"We talked already and we're going to get another set of signs and keep practicing that for the next four days until his next start," Rosario said. "We talked about it and we're going to figure it out."
Recent success nets Nicasio home opener start
MIAMI -- Rockies manager Walt Weiss decided to go with right-hander Juan Nicasio for Friday's home opener against the D-backs, rather than lefty Franklin Morales, because Nicasio's experience at Coors Field is fresher.
Nicasio has been with the Rockies the last three seasons. Morales began his career with the Rockies as a callup starter on the 2007 team that went to the World Series, and as a reliever in 2009, but he was traded to the Red Sox in 2011. Weiss thought it was better to have Morales make his first start Thursday, at Marlins Park.
"More than anything, Juan has pitched a lot and made a lot of starts in our park," Weiss said. "Frankie did at one time, but it's been a while. I'd rather Frankie's first start be on the road before we get back there in all the hoopla of Opening Day and throw that on top of being with a new club. Juan was the best choice."