Notes: Veres passes first test

Notes: Veres passes first test

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Rockies veteran pitching hopeful Dave Veres celebrated the eve of the first birthday of his new left hip in style on Friday.

Veres, 40, trying to complete a comeback from hip replacement surgery last March and earn a bullpen spot, passed a number of tests while pitching a perfect inning in the Rockies' intrasquad game on Friday morning.

At the start of each inning, the Rockies placed a runner at first and second to work on bunt situations. Veres leaped off the mound to his right, fielded a bunt and threw out a runner at third.

During the actual inning, Veres forced two grounders to the right side of the infield and had to dash to the bag.

"This was a legit step," a charged-up Veres said. "I can say I'm going to come back all I want. It's like batting practice. 'Oh, I hit 20 homers in BP.' Big deal. Until you face a hitter, that's when you know."

Veres, who has appeared in 605 Major League games for five teams, including the Rockies from 1998-99, said he made three or four nervous trips to the bathroom and needed just five warmup pitches because adrenaline had already taken control. On the mound, Veres demonstrated sharp downward movement on his sinkerball.

Veres won't approach the 94-mph velocity from years past, but he has a deceptive delivery and an odd arm angle. Also, the late sinking action of his main pitch can make up for velocity.

"Everybody's asking me, 'How hard are you throwing?'" Veres said. "I don't really care, because [hitters] will tell me how hard I'm throwing."

Manager Clint Hurdle said: "I'm sure he had some butterflies, and I'm sure this was a big step forward for him. There's going to be a point soon where he just needs to be a pitcher."

Veres, who has not pitched in the Majors since the 2003 playoffs for the Cubs and hasn't pitched in a pro game since June 28, 2004, for Triple-A Fresno, will next pitch on Monday in a "B" game against the White Sox.

Strong impressions: Right-hander Rodrigo Lopez, who started on Opening Day for the Orioles in three of the past four seasons, struck out two and gave up two hits in two scoreless innings that earned praise from Hurdle.

"I thought he looked extremely sharp, kept the ball down," Hurdle said. "It came out of his hand nicely. He was pretty efficient. It was encouraging."

Also, right-hander Greg Reynolds, the No. 1 draft pick out of Stanford University in 2006, threw two perfect innings.

Back away from the weights: Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba missed much of last season because of a shoulder injury that was blamed on the bulk he developed while working out with a personal trainer.

To make sure that wouldn't happen this year, Torrealba didn't use a trainer. Nor did he use heavy weights. Torrealba even made sure there was no way he'd be exposed to it either.

"I didn't want to do anything stupid, like go to a gym," Torrealba said. "I didn't want to show up to work out my legs, then just start doing something with my upper body. I didn't want to put myself in that situation."

Torrealba said his long-toss program -- which involves throwing greater distances than in the past -- works. In Friday's intrasquad game, Torrealba slipped on his first throw and bounced it left of second base, but the second time he faced a steal of the same base, the throw was accurate and on time.

Torrealba doesn't want to trying to turn baseball back to the days when weight training was prohibited. He does the exercises for the small muscles in the shoulder, using two- and three-pound weights, and once there is no risk to his shoulder, he'll develop a weight-training routine.

"I never lifted weights before last year, I did it and I got hurt," Torrealba said. "But everyone has told me that they will help you in August and September, they're going to help you because you'll be stronger.

"I tried it with a personal trainer. I don't think it was a bad idea, but we overdid it, and that cost me almost a year. I've learned from the mistakes."

Who needs tradition? The Rockies and Angels will use the designated hitter during Saturday's Cactus League game at Hi Corbett Field. Generally, National League teams have pitchers bat at home during Spring Training, but the rule can be changed upon the agreement of both clubs.

"We could've done it last year, could've done it the year before," Hurdle said. "We could've done it last year. First time out, your pitchers are throwing two innings."

Hurdle said once pitchers are in games longer, he'll put the pitchers in the batting order so that they can work on bunting and moving runners.

On the Rox: The Rockies have reached contracts with all of their low-service time players -- those not eligible for arbitration. Only third baseman Garrett Atkins and center fielder Willy Taveras had their salaries renewed unilaterally by the club. Depending on service time, each player has a minimum salary, but clubs and players can negotiate above that figure. ... Highly touted pitching prospect Franklin Morales gave up two runs, one earned, walked three and struck out one in the intrasquad game. Morales, slated to begin at Double-A Tulsa, displayed a live arm and understandable nervousness. "It would be kind of odd if he didn't have jitters," Hurdle said. ... Tickets for the March 30 exhibition game between the Rockies and the Triple-A Sky Sox at Security Service Field in Colorado Springs will go on sale on Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. MT, either online at www.skysox.com or by calling (719) 591-7699. Single-game Sky Sox tickets also go on sale on Monday. Box seats are $9, and reserved seats cost $7. Miniseason ticket packages start at $45. ... Right-hander Danny Graves, another veteran non-roster pitcher, has missed a week with a strained left oblique. But Graves threw off the slope of a mound on Thursday. Hurdle hopes to see Graves soon under game conditions.

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