Ryan Spilborghs' strong showing in the role in 2007, hitting .299 with 11 homers and 51 RBIs in 97 games, gives him a good edge at one of the slots, but offseason acquisition Scott Podsednik is making for a tough race with Cory Sullivan, Colorado's starting center fielder in 2006 and much of '05.
Podsednik is having the best spring at the plate among the three, raising his average to .360 (9-for-25) with a 2-for-2 game on Saturday. He also pushed his on-base percentage to .529 by adding a pair of walks against the Rangers.
"When you can run [the bases] and you keep the ball out of the air, walk, square some balls up -- we've seen it before. This guy's got to be a good player for reasons," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said Saturday. "He's been down in a number of counts and been able to work out walks. He stayed on the ball and hit some balls hard the other way. I think the first time he's been caught stealing was today. He has the ability to steal a base, [and] he went and got the ball in the outfield. He's having a good camp."
Podsednik leads all Rockies with six steals, and the catch Hurdle referred to was a beautiful diving snag after covering considerable acreage to come from right field as he snared a line drive off the bat of Texas designated hitter Jason Botts.
"Full tilt, horizontal to the ground, fully extended," Hurdle observed. "That was a big league play."
Podsednik was a bargain pickup for the Rockies, coming off a 2007 season when he played in only 62 games while spending extensive time on the disabled list. His 224 steals in parts of seven Major League seasons would help fill the speed void left by Kazuo Matsui's departure. And with the skills he's shown this spring rekindling memories of his stellar season as the leadoff man for the World Series champion White Sox in '05, Podsednik is making it increasingly challenging for the Rockies to cut him from the big league roster.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less