SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The start of actual Spring Training camp puts an official end to what Rockies pitchers have been calling "Camp Hip-Hip," in honor of left-handed veteran Jorge De La Rosa -- as in, Hip-hip, Jorge!
Most of the pitchers live in the area, and those who don't usually arrive early to train at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, or they come at different points of the offseason. And many prospect types make their way to the desert, as well. Might as well make a winter of throwing programs, playing catch and throwing bullpen sessions a little more fun, even if the name is corny.
"I don't know how many guys we had all winter, but the last two weeks we had a lot -- maybe 40-some," De La Rosa said. "It was fun, with all those young guys. I try to learn from them, and they probably learn something from me."
Brian "Bucky" Buck, who runs the conditioning program at Salt River Fields, has worked in the Minor League system and spends some time in Denver, decided there might as well be a name and T-shirts. De La Rosa gave his blessing.
He said the offseason gave him time to converse with right-hander Tyler Chatwood, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery. De La Rosa dealt with it a few years back.
"I talk with everybody, but I talked more with 'Chatty,'" De La Rosa said. "He's ready. The way I saw him throwing -- I played catch with him every day -- he's going to have a great year."
• A fun spring activity is to comb rosters for jersey number changes. Seniority determines who gets to pick a number and who gets whatever is hanging in the locker. Stories behind swaps are fun.
Chatwood wore No. 32 when he joined the Rockies in 2013, but the next year he relinquished it to veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins and took 27. Now, Chatwood is back with his old jersey. "I let Hawk borrow it," he said with a smile.
Catcher Dustin Garneau, handed 50 last year, is the proud bearer of 13 -- a number worn by just six players and a former manager in the Rockies' 23-season history. Superstition pegs 13 as unlucky, but not for Garneau, who has worn it whenever he has had the chance. He also wore it as a quarterback and safety while playing football growing up.
"It's always been a lucky number for me -- I was born on Friday the 13th," said Garneau, born Aug. 13, 1987.
• It's a good time to be a starting-pitching prospect in Rockies camp. Because the team didn't bring in a veteran, guys such as former top picks Tyler Anderson and Kyle Freeland, and Jeff Hoffman (acquired from the Blue Jays in the Troy Tulowitzki trade) will be watched closely. Odds are against them breaking camp with the Major League club, but getting time during the regular season is a possibility. Rockies manager Walt Weiss said he will find them innings.
"We want to give them their innings so that they'll be ready to go when we break camp, and we'll evaluate them along the way," Weiss said.
Also in that category is righty Antonio Senzatela, who is in his first year on the 40-man roster after a solid showing at Class A Advanced Modesto.
"It's not the typical route for a big league pitcher, go from A ball to the big leagues -- those are unique circumstances -- but if you're in camp, we're going to get a look at you, we're going to get a chance to evaluate you against big league competition, and things can happen quickly after that," Weiss said.