Black, Rockies reflect on Baylor

Black, Rockies reflect on Baylor

CLEVELAND -- In the wake on Don Baylor's passing on Monday, the Rockies honored the first manager in club history by hanging a jersey with his name on the back of it in their dugout on Tuesday at Progressive Field.

Baylor -- who passed away Monday morning from complications from multiple myeloma, a cancer that he battled with for 14 years -- helped bring attention to baseball in the city of Denver as manager of the Rockies from 1993-98, where he won the NL Manager of the Year Award in '95. Baylor returned to the club as a hitting coach for the 2009 and '10 seasons.

Before Tuesday's game against the Indians, Rockies manager Bud Black took some time to acknowledge Baylor's career as a player and a manager.

Rockies remember Don Baylor

"I don't know if there's a favorite memory of him," Black said, "just my general visual of Don -- and I've said this a couple times earlier today -- that he was a gentleman with a lot of class and dignity. On the baseball side, he was an outstanding player. He was like an old-school tough guy. There was a toughness to him that was real.

"There was a presence to Don that was felt on the field, whether he was in the game, around the cage, from the other dugout, you knew he was around. He was a great man. I know that. I didn't know him well, but from what I did know, he was an outstanding guy."

Although Black may have not known Baylor well, the two had encountered each other on the field several times throughout their playing careers. Baylor -- a designated hitter, first baseman and left fielder throughout his 19-year career -- went 10-for-31 with a homer, a double, a triple, 10 RBIs, five walks and six strikeouts against the left-handed-pitching Black. Interestingly enough, Baylor was hit by a pitch 267 times in his career -- four by Black.

"He stood right on the plate," Black said, "and he was one of those guys that got hit almost 300 times, right? I got him four times, but for me, people ask me who are your toughest outs? I had a bunch, but he was menacing. He was a menacing hitter. ... He was a really good hitter. He was a good baseball player. A really good baseball player."

The Indians took a moment of silence to recognize Baylor before Tuesday's game, and the Rockies are planning a tribute to Baylor when the team returns to Coors Field on Monday.

Indians remember Don Baylor

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Becky and the entire Baylor family," Rockies owner Dick Monfort said in a statement. "Don was instrumental in the creation of the Rockies, and in his two stints with the club, he left an impact on each and every one of us. He was a big man with an even bigger heart, a friend of so many. His persona will be a part of our club heritage forever. This is a sad day in Colorado and for all of baseball."

Worth noting

• Black said that first baseman Ian Desmond (right calf strain) took batting practice on Tuesday. The manager said that the Desmond's injury will keep him out longer than initially anticipated, but that a future rehab assignment could be in the works.

• Black also noted that pitchers Kyle Freeland (left groin strain) and Tyler Anderson (knee surgery in July) are both progressing along in their respective rehabs. Black said that the pitchers played catch and did some agility training on Tuesday, and that Anderson is going to throw a bullpen session on Wednesday.

• Right-hander Chad Bettis, coming back from a bout with testicular cancer, scaled back his pitch count slightly and finished with a solid five innings for Triple-A Albuquerque on Tuesday night at New Orleans. Bettis gave up one run on three hits, including a home run by Ramon Cabrera, struck out two and issued no walks. He threw 70 pitches, 46 for strikes, and left with a 1-0 deficit.

While on a Minor League injury rehab assignment, Bettis went as high as 84 pitches on Thursday. The Rockies decided to recall him, then option him to Albuquerque so that his comeback was not governed by the 30-day rehab limit for a pitcher.

William Kosileski is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland who covered the Rockies on Tuesday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.