Lucroy scratched from Rox debut with illness

Lucroy scratched from Rox debut with illness

DENVER -- Catcher Jonathan Lucroy called joining a Rockies team battling for the playoffs "a breath of fresh air, even if the air is a little thinner."

However, Lucroy's debut was delayed Tuesday. After discussing his assignment with a new club during a pregame press conference, Lucroy was scratched from the lineup with a stomach illness, after originally being slated to bat eighth in the series opener against the Mets.

The Rockies acquired Lucroy from the Rangers, for a player to be named, because he has breathed pennant-race and playoff air -- something the entire starting rotation is experiencing for the first time.

"I'm not going to come in and try to do too much," Lucroy said. "These guys are really talented, and they've got a real good group of teachers that are working with them in the coaches. Ryan Hanigan has been back there. I know him from playing against him in the National League Central when he was with the Reds, and he's a really good veteran catcher who knows what he's doing.

"I'm not going to be doing much with these guys, other than doing my job to try to help them get better in any way I possibly can, and try to get myself better along the way."

Lucroy headed to the Rockies

Some players are familiar to Lucroy. He played in the 2017 World Baseball Classic with third baseman Nolan Arenado and relievers Jake McGee and Pat Neshek. He was a Brewers teammate with first baseman Mark Reynolds and outfielder Gerardo Parra. Lucroy's younger brother went to college with starter Jeff Hoffman at East Carolina.

It's the second straight year Lucroy was dealt at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. The Rangers acquired him from the Brewers last year, after Lucroy exercised his right to turn down a trade to the Indians. The Rangers lost to the Blue Jays in the American League Division Series.

But Lucroy, 31, potentially will get another playoff shot with the Rockies, who entered Tuesday holding the National League's second Wild Card, 5 1/2 games ahead of the Brewers.

Lucroy's RBI double

"Like anything else, whenever you're wanted and needed, it makes you feel good, makes you feel special, makes you feel a part of something bigger than yourself any time you get brought into a situation like this," Lucroy said.

Lucroy, who had 53 doubles in 2014 to become the first catcher in modern history (since 1900) to lead MLB in doubles, hit .242 in 67 games with the Rangers this year -- 38 points below his career average. But Rockies manager Bud Black isn't letting numbers sway his knowledge of Lucroy.

"A lot of numbers, yeah. Here's the deal: I don't buy into that," Black said. "What I'm seeing this year, that's what I'm going on. This guy can catch."

Worth noting

• The Rockies optioned Tony Wolters, their primary catcher much of the season, to Triple-A Albuquerque.

"The talent's there for Tony to continue to grow as a Major League catcher," Black said. "This is no knock on Tony at all. We had a really good conversation in Washington after we knew we had acquired Lucroy. Tony gets it. He understands. Tony's going to be a good Rockie, and a good big leaguer."

• Right-hander Chad Bettis, battling back from testicular cancer, will start Thursday for Albuquerque at Round Rock, and is scheduled to throw around 90 pitches in his fifth rehab appearance. It's possible that Bettis, who underwent surgery in November and chemotherapy in March and April, will make one more rehab start after that before joining the Major League club.

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