Rockies inching closer to finalizing roster

Rockies inching closer to finalizing roster

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Righty reliever Scott Oberg, switch-hitting infielder Cristhian Adames and right-handed hitting outfielder-first baseman Stephen Cardullo were rewarded for standout springs with spots on the Rockies' Opening Day roster, manager Bud Black announced Friday afternoon.

Oberg, who pinballed between Triple-A Albuquerque and the Majors the last two seasons, posted a 2.16 ERA in nine Spring Training games going into Friday night against the Mariners. His work allowed the Rockies to designate veteran righty Jason Motte for assignment Friday.

"I liked the mix of pitches -- the fastball-slider combination, the change to the lefty," Black said. "Scott showed some consistency in stuff and his performance. The ball-strike ratio, the efficiency of his outings, were some things we were trying to achieve."

Adames, who hit .218 last season but .275 as a pinch-hitter, and took a .069 average into Friday, and Cardullo, who entered Friday batting .379, won a spirited competition for reserve roles alongside lefty-hitting infielder Alexi Amarista. The Rockies optioned infielder Pat Valaika to Albuquerque, and reassigned non-roster veteran outfielder Chris Denorfia to Minor League camp.

"We feel good about Adames," Black said. "Some of the things that we talked about in the early part of Spring Training for him, to show us some things, with the bat, with the versatility around the diamond, he worked hard on both in the batting cage and on the field."

On Cardullo, Black said, "The at-bats that Cardullo was throwing up there, the right-handed bat component, the ability to play the outfield - both corners - and first base, and if you looked at the skill set to come off the bench and give a good at-bat, it all made sense."

All that's left is an announcement involving three rookie pitchers in line for roster spots -- righty Antonio Senzatela, who will start Saturday's spring finale against the Mariners, lefty Kyle Freeland and righty German Marquez.

Black has set righty Jon Gray for Monday's opener at Milwaukee, followed by lefty Tyler Anderson and righty Tyler Chatwood. It's expected that Senzatela and Freeland are in line for the final two rotation spots, with lefty Chris Rusin joining the bullpen when he is fully rehabbed from a right oblique injury.

The fifth game is the home opener, Friday against the Dodgers. The possibility exists for Freeland, a Denver native and the Rockies' top pick in the 2014 Draft out of the University of Evansville, could make his big league debut in that game.

Motte, 34, closed for the Cardinals when they won the World Series in 2012, but it has been an uphill battle since 2013 Tommy John surgery. He pitched briefly for the Cardinals in 2014 and spent 2015 with the Cardinals before signing a two-year, $10 million contract with the Rockies. He is due $5 million this year.

With one spot in an eight-man bullpen to fill with a starter-type, the Rockies' bullpen consists of righty closer Greg Holland, righties Oberg, Adam Ottavino, Carlos Estevez and Jordan Lyles, and lefties Jake McGee and Mike Dunn.

Motte had two disabled list trips because of rotator cuff strains last season and went 0-1 with a 4.94 ERA in 30 games. This spring, Motte was 0-2 with an 8.31 ERA in eight games as he struggled with location.

Denorfia, 36, is trying to come back after not playing in the Majors last season after undergoing back surgery in April. Denorfia has hit .231 in 39 Spring Training at-bats.

Valaika, 24, who appeared in 13 games last season, is an option for infield depth.

Worth noting

• In addition to Rusin, righty Chad Qualls (right forearm soreness), first baseman Ian Desmond (broken left hand), catcher Tom Murphy (right forearm hairline fracture) and David Dahl (stress reaction in rib) will begin the year on the 10-day disabled list. The club also can either place righty Jairo Diaz (recovery from Tommy John surgery) on the 10-day DL or option him to Albuquerque.

If Freeland, a non-roster invitee, is added as expected, the Rockies will need to clear a spot on the 40-man Major League roster.

• Rusin retired all six batters he faced, with two strikeouts, and Diaz gave up one hit and struck out one in one inning in a Minor League game against the Giants on Friday.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.