Acevedo picks the right time to shine

Acevedo picks the right time to shine

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Manager Clint Hurdle won't announce his final roster decisions until Friday, which made Thursday a good time for right-hander Jose Acevedo to do his best pitching of the spring.

It's not clear how Acevedo figures in Friday's decision. After all, the Rockies reassigned him to Minor League camp two days ago.

Even so, he was asked to pitch Thursday's game, against the Chicago White Sox at Tucson Electric Park, and he turned in a Major League-worthy performance -- five shutout innings with five hits, one strikeout and no walks -- in the 3-3 tie. This, after he had given up 17 hits and 10 runs in five appearances (including a "B" game) before being told that his season would start at Triple-A Colorado Springs.

But since the Rockies told Acevedo that he was not going to make the team, right-handed starter Byung-Hyun Kim (strained right hamstring) and righty reliever Scott Dohmann (viral infection) have been told that they'll be on the 15-day disabled list when the regular season starts, on Monday at home against Arizona. In addition, the Rockies have held off on announcing their Opening Day bullpen.

How much has changed because of the uncertainty involving others and the certainty Acevedo displayed on the mound is, well, uncertain to all, including Acevedo himself.

All he knew was that the Rockies were asking him to pitch in front of Hurdle, pitching coach Bob Apodaca and the decisionmakers above them.

"When they asked me to take the ball, I said, 'Hey, I'm happy to do it, because I have so much better to show you guys,' " said Acevedo.

Uncertainties aside, here's what is known:

• Right-hander Josh Fogg was originally scheduled to pitch on Thursday, but the Rockies told Acevedo on Wednesday that he would start instead. Fogg will pitch in a Minor League game on Sunday and seems to be lining up to begin the season in the starting rotation, but the Rockies haven't announced that.

• There is at least one bullpen job up for grabs. In an ideal world, it would go to a left-hander, but Jaime Cerda and Tom Martin have raised enough red flags with their performances that Hurdle has said he is not "wedded" to having a lefty in that spot.

• One other bullpen slot is widely assumed to have right-hander David Cortes' name on it. But Hurdle said on Thursday that he hasn't talked to Cortes, and decisions aren't decisions until Hurdle tells the player.

Of course, there's always the chance of trades or acquisitions.

"This is a very difficult time right now, and I'm just going to stay close-vested on everything until I talk to the people that are involved and the decisions are made," said Hurdle. "There's speculation in the starting rotation and who's going to pitch in the bullpen. I tell those guys -- the guys that are writing these stories -- they're not the ones picking the team."

So did Acevedo pitch his way back into consideration for an Opening Day roster spot in the bullpen?

Hurdle was more expansive with his evaluation of how Acevedo pitched than what it means.

"He pitched well," he said. "We're going to make our decisions tomorrow. He controlled the things he was able to control.

"That's one thing we've talked to him about in the past. When he pitches, he can be very good. At times he gets too amped up or he gets excited and overthrows and gets the ball up. But he flat-out pitched today."

All the hits against Acevedo were singles. Twice he faced trouble. Once his defense bailed him out, the other time he took care of it himself.

In the fourth, Joe Crede singled and took second on a wild pitch. Chris Widger singled, but left fielder Ryan Spilborghs threw out Crede at the plate.

In the fifth inning, an Alex Cintron single and an error by first baseman Todd Helton put runners at first and third with no outs. But Acevedo forced Pablo Ozuna to ground out to Helton, who looked Cintron back to third, and Acevedo ended the inning by working Rob Mackowiak into a fly ball to left.

Acevedo, obtained in a trade with Cincinnati last April, can be outstanding. He held San Francisco to one run and three hits in six innings in a spot start last Aug. 4, and he bordered on dominant during the Dominican Winter League (0.66 ERA in four relief appearances). But last summer he fell into bad habits and pitched his way out of future rotation chances, and he quickly became a non-factor in the competition for the fifth starter this spring.

Acevedo may or may not have changed the Rockies' minds about whether he can begin the year on the club after Thursday's performance. He knows it will take much more to keep his bosses' thoughts positive.

"I know I want to be there on Opening Day," he said. "But I've got to follow what my pitching coach says. I've got to go to Colorado Springs and get consistent, especially with my sinkerball, and mix it up a little bit more. I've got to be consistent with all my pitches.

"Me and Apodaca have been working on my sinker. As you guys know, Denver is a place when you've got to use that sinkerball and keep the ball down. Balls fly over there. Like I said, a lot of things can happen quickly. The occasion is to be ready when things happen and be ready when the chance comes."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.