Sarah's Take: Rox need to avoid injury bug

Sarah's Take: Rox need to avoid injury bug

The Colorado Rockies had a miserable 2012 season caused by an extreme rash of injuries. This produced the franchise's worst win-loss record ever (64-98). While celebrating their 20th anniversary, the Rockies hope to be competitive in the highly exciting National League West this year. If the Rockies reach the magical .500 mark, it would be a vast improvement.

Troy Tulowitzki missed 115 games in 2012. Any team missing its projected cleanup hitter for that long would be in trouble. Todd Helton, another power hitter for Colorado, played only 69 games. Carlos González played 135 games. Dexter Fowler missed 19 games, and Michael Cuddyer missed 61 games.

The Rockies rely on having great offensive production to be competitive. Playing at Coors Field -- a hitters' paradise -- for 81 games, the Rockies need to average at least six runs a game to win a majority of their home games. In 2012, they averaged 4.7 runs a game, including their road games. Their offensive struggles weren't surprising when every offensive producer spent significant time on the disabled list.

This must change for the team to have any chance of having a respectable record in 2013.

Most Major League teams would have replaced their medical staff after the Rockies' rash of injuries. The 2012 season wasn't the only season that the Rockies have been marred by injuries. Since 2009, the last time that the Rockies made a postseason appearance, injuries have undermined their efforts. The Rockies didn't replace their medical staff, but this staff, along with the Rockies management, must figure out a way to decrease the number of injuries quickly.

Playing in high altitude puts more stress on the body. Denver doesn't experience the hot temperatures like St. Louis or Atlanta, but the dryness of the thin air makes it difficult for people to keep hydrated. Baseball players need to drink a lot of water to prevent muscle cramps and pulls. After living in the Rocky Mountain region for the past four years, I wonder if the Rockies drink enough to keep hydrated. This dry air might be producing the injuries.

With Walt Weiss managing the Rockies, the team's front office hopes he will understand the special rigors of playing in Colorado. During the early days of the organization, Weiss played shortstop and was an integral part of the team. He watched Larry Walker and Dante Bichette stun the baseball world with their awesome offensive production, while the pitchers struggled. The Rockies organization believes Weiss understands the unique challenges of playing in Denver.

Since I have usually lived in the West, I have followed the Rockies somewhat closely. In the early days of the organization, I don't remember the Rockies being plagued with injuries. Yes, they had difficulty vying for the top in the division, even though they earned the NL Wild Card in their third year.

In recent years, injuries have become more prevalent than before. It seems like when a player has a minor muscle pull, he goes on the disabled list. Although I'm glad baseball is trying to take better care of its athletes, going on the DL for every little thing is becoming ridiculous.

I understand baseball teams have made a tremendous investment in each player. Unlike old days, teams must pay top dollar to get the elite players even out of high school, college or other countries. Now the teams want to protect their investments by putting their players on the disabled list when they have minor injuries. I don't want to see players forced to perform hurt, yet minor injuries don't necessarily warrant a trip to the DL. Teams should be able to handle a slightly injured player missing a few games.

Everyone knows pitching in Coors Field is difficult. Over the last few seasons, the Rockies have had many injuries occurring to their pitching staff, and this displeases them. Last year, the Rockies switched to a four-man rotation, with starters on a 75-pitch limit and a "piggy-back" starter behind the guy who took the mound to start the game.

Before the Rockies will be competitive, they must have fewer injuries. As most teams do, the Rockies have an incredible feeling of optimism surrounding their Spring Training camp, but I don't think it will last into May. They must figure out how to keep their players healthy before they will be a factor in the NL West.

Sarah D. Morris can be reached at sarahmorris27@gmail.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.