Lopez, the former No. 1 pitcher for the Orioles, struggled when his pitches have been elevated. The discussion going into Wednesday against the Royals centered on "establishing a downhill plane." Or, as pitch coach Bob Apodaca put it, "Let's see how well we can stay from the catcher's glove, down."
Lopez made a couple of mistakes among his 82 pitches in five innings. Mark Teahen hit a two-run homer in the third inning and he yielded triples to Alex Gordon and John Buck in the fourth. In all, Lopez gave up six hits and three runs in the Rockies' 6-2 loss.
The performance leaves him 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA in three official spring starts, not counting two scoreless innings in an intrasquad game. But all that pales in comparison to the nine ground-ball outs Lopez forced against the Royals. It meant his pitches had late, low movement.
"It should never change, regardless of the competition," Apodaca said. "If today doesn't tell him exactly how strong he can be down in the strike zone ... that pitching performance as far as attacking hitters is going to work against any team."
Lopez said, "We've been working on that since the last start, and I'm pretty happy with the progress."
Kim on the block: Scouts from other clubs confirm that the Rockies are shopping right-hander Byung-Hyun Kim, who starts on Friday against the Giants at Scottsdale.
Kim, Josh Fogg, Brian Lawrence, Jason Hirsh (Thursday's starter against the Athletics) and Ubaldo Jimenez are among those competing for the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation, and Kim's experience and $2.5 million salary make him tradeable.
Kim is working on his two-seam fastball and changeup to add to his four-seamer and slider. Kim said he understands the need to add pitches, but he may not need the new ones in every game. He added that the trade talks don't affect any of his preparation.
"Trades are not my decision -- baseball is a business," Kim said.
Making a bid: Right-handed reliever Matt Herges issued his first walk of the spring on Wednesday. But Herges was otherwise smooth, and he has dealt with just two baserunners in four appearances. That represents a nice bid to make the squad as a non-roster invitee.
"I can't say he's getting any better because he's been good from the first game," Apodaca said. "Today might've been his toughest one, but he came ready to compete. It's obvious, from his side work to his BP to his games."
Postseason glory, preseason worry: Outfielder Alexis Gomez hit .272 for the Tigers last season and batted .444 in the American League Championship Series against the Athletics. Yet now he's batting .364 this spring for the Rockies and still not assured of a job. He's fine with the situation.
"At the time I signed here, I knew there were a lot of younger guys, a lot of prospects, a lot of guys that can play," Gomez said. "Really, to make the team I have to do as good a job as I can, then let them decide who they think can help the team to win."
On the Rox: Brad Hawpe went 2-for-4 with a double and three RBIs as the Rockies beat the White Sox, 10-6, in a B game at Tucson Electric Park. The Rockies used Jimenez (4 2/3 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 SO, 1 HB) and Oscar Rivera (3 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO). ... Non-roster veteran righty Danny Graves, slowed early in camp by a strained oblique muscle, gave up two runs on two hits and a walk in one inning against the Royals. "We're still going to give Danny the ball," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "We were able to get him back-to-back days [he faced one batter on Tuesday], and one thing is his velocity did pick up. We've seen some improvement. Now you weigh that against what everybody else is doing, it's kind of a curve that you've got to grade him on." ... Right-handed hitting utility man Jeff Baker became the first Rockies player with two home runs this spring when he went deep to open the ninth inning. ... Apodaca said the Rockies' starters and candidates have moved to throwing every fifth day, but Lopez will throw on the sixth day because of the club's off-day Monday.
Up next: Hirsh will face the Athletics' Rich Harden on Thursday at Hi Corbett Field. Lawrence and relievers Manny Corpas, Ramon Ramirez, Jeremy Affeldt, LaTroy Hawkins and Brian Fuentes also are on the schedule.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less