'He has earned their trust in a very short time,' Weiss says of rookie catcher
By Jack Etkin
Special to MLB.com |
DENVER -- Manager Walt Weiss had scant knowledge about catcher Tony Wolters when he parachuted into the Rockies' organization at the outset of Spring Training. They claimed him off waivers from the Indians on Feb. 18 in a little-noticed transaction.
"I knew very little about him, quite frankly," Weiss said. "To be honest with you, when we got Tony, I'm like, 'Cool, we got another guy that can catch bullpens in Spring Training.' But it didn't take long for him to catch our eye, to make an impression."
Wolters, a 23-year-old rookie who had never played above the Double-A level, won the backup catcher job, and with starting catcher Nick Hundley sidelined with a strained left obique, Wolters has been doing the bulk of the catching.
"The thing I've been most impressed about with Tony is his aptitude, just his baseball instincts, his baseball IQ for a kid his age and the way he has jelled with our staff," Weiss said. "We didn't know this kid until Spring Training started, and that's not a lot of time to get to know a staff. He has earned their trust in a very short time. ... He's got a knack for connecting with these guys even though he hasn't known them very long. But they see how hard he works, how much he cares, and that's big for a pitching staff when they know their catcher cares."
When he's not playing, Wolters will typically sit on the bench taking notes for five innings before going to the bullpen. Left knee problems bothered Wolters the past two seasons and required surgery. Now that he's healthy, the left-handed-hitting Wolters can set up on his back leg, although anything he does offensively is considered a bonus, as he's hitting .194 (12-for-62) in 22 games with four doubles and eight RBIs.
Wolters began his career as a shortstop in the Indians' organization and began catching in 2013. That unusual skill set gave Wolters versatility, which helped him make the Opening Day roster. Weiss has used him in two games at second base this season and lauds Wolters for having the feet and hands of a middle infielder behind the plate.
"I saw him take ground balls early in Spring Training on a back field when the day was over," Weiss said. "I just happened to be walking by the field, and I stopped and watched him take ground balls for about 10 minutes. And he looked like a Major League shortstop to me."
• Left-hander Jorge De La Rosa (strained left groin) made his second rehab start for Triple-A Albuquerque on Saturday night. He threw 92 pitches, 53 for strikes, in 3 2/3 innings and allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits and three walks with five strikeouts. De La Rosa needs to be more efficient, and Weiss said he and the pitching coaches will meet with De La Rosa and determine whether he needs to make another rehab start.
"He's got to work some things out," Weiss said. "He's got to get to the point where he's able to go deeper into games here to protect the bullpen."
• When the Rockies return to Coors Field on May 27, expect a greener infield. The Rockies will resod the infield -- in fair and foul ground up to the infield cutoff -- while the team on the road. The crew had put in a new field before the season, after the Coors Light Stadium Series National Hockey League game between the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings on Feb. 27. Rain, snow, 14 high school games and the early part of the Rockies' schedule created heavy wear and tear on the infield. The outfield was not affected and will not be resodded.
Jack Etkin is a contributor to MLB.com based in Denver. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.