The Rockies’ stalled offense could soon get a boost with the return of Kris Bryant to the lineup.
Manager Bud Black said Friday that Bryant, whom Black called “our best offensive player,” could return from the injury list in time for next weekend’s series against the Twins in Minnesota.
“Our hope is that we see Kris in Minnesota,” Black said before the Rockies opened a three-game series against San Diego at Coors Field. “In the next five, six, seven days we will see what lies ahead.”
Bryant, 30, attended a simulated game in Coors on Friday afternoon, testing the strained lower back that has limited him to just 17 games this season.
Left-hander Ty Blach, who was on the IL with a sore left wrist, suggested Bryant. Blach is expected to serve in a rehab game with Triple-A Albuquerque on Wednesday.
Bryant signed a seven-year, $182 million deal to join the Rockies as a free agent. But Bryant has just 63 at-bats, posting .270/.342/.675 and yet to hit a home run.
Black said Bryant was feeling good, adding that the left fielder “looks ready” after Bryant managed bases, went through outfield drills and batted in the batting cage for three days. The next step is for Bryant to play rehab games at Triple-A, though Black hasn’t said when Bryant’s rehab start will begin or how long it will last.
Bryant has been on the injury list twice this season with back problems. He came off the IL briefly but only played in two games before the back pain flared up again and he was forced back to the IL on May 23.
Bryant was signed to bring power to Colorado’s offense. Without him on the lineup, the Rockies had hit just 64 homers when they entered Friday night’s game, ranking 23rd in the majors. Without Bryant in the lineup, Colorado’s record is 16-25.
“If he’s Kris Bryant, he’s probably our best player,” Black said. “He is our best offensive player. So if he’s in the lineup, it takes everyone down one level. All that expression about extending the cast is real when it’s in there.”
Bouchard’s chance. Corner infielder/outfielder Sean Bouchard, 26, is likely to make his big league debut this season. He was called up by Triple-A Thursday when the Rockies backed Garrett Hampson on the COVID-19 IL.
Bouchard, a ninth-round pick from UCLA in 2017, has spent more than five seasons in the minors and has a career slash of .279/.352/.490. He hit the ball extremely well for the Isotopes: .338/.430/.683 with 11 home runs in 37 games.
He hit .412 (21-51) in June and has hit safely in 11 of 13 with five multi-hit outings and two multi-home runs, including one on Wednesday.
“I’m definitely glad to be able to do what I could do,” Bouchard said Friday, adding that he’s aware the Pacific Coast League is inflating batsman stats.
Black said Bouchard is considered a solid defender and has gap-to-gap power similar to Rockies outfielder and leadoff hitter Connor Joe.
Hilliard sent down. Struggling outfielder Sam Hilliard, 28, was officially selected for Triple-A on Friday, although he was briefed on the news Thursday night. The Rockies called up infielder Alan Trejo to replace Hilliard on the 26-man roster.
Hilliard, who was losing valuable playing time, hit just .161 in 41 games with two homers, 13 runs, 12 RBIs and two stolen bases. He hit a particularly rough patch in June when he went 0-to-20 with 10 strikeouts.
Black said breaking the news to Hilliard was difficult.
“That was a tough question because he’s such a great guy,” Black said. “He’s a great teammate, he’s popular, selfless. But that happens regularly and I think we’re all hardened by it. So is Sam.
“But players are conditioned to deal with it because it’s their job – to deal with it.”
Padres RHP Nick Martinez (2-3, 3.74 ERA) at Rockies RHP German Marquez (3-5, 6.09)Saturday, 7:10 p.m., Coors Field
Radio: KOA 850 AM/94.1 FM
Has Marquez turned the corner? Maybe. With his fastball command in a better place, he’s won his last two starts, posted a 3.46 ERA, and pitched at a much better pace. The right-hander is 9-3 (Colorado is 11-5) in his 16 games (14 starts) against San Diego. At Coors Field, he’s 4-1 (Rockies 6-1) in seven games (six starts) with a 5.24 ERA against the Padres.
Although he didn’t take the decision into account, Martinez hit very well in a doubleheader at Petco Park last Saturday in Game 1 against the Rockies. He fanned out nine in just 5 2/3 innings while allowing just one run on five hits and three walks. Martinez has not had a win in his last five starts, despite posting a 2.92 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP. In three games (two starts) against Colorado, he has a 6.75 ERA. He has only served once at Coors Field and has been hammered for seven runs with seven hits in four innings.
Trend: As of Friday night’s game, the Rockies had played 35 home games this season and had a 16-19 record, with their starters posting a 5.37 ERA. Last season, Colorado went 21-14 in its first 35 home games and the starting rotation had a 3.30 ERA.
In question: The Rockies entered Friday night’s game after committing at least one error in 13 straight home games, the longest streak in franchise history. It is the longest such streak by a major league team since Oakland had an error in 15 straight home games from May 20 to June 27, 2000.
Sunday: Padres LHP Blake Snell (0-3, 4/5) at Rockies RHP Antonio Senzatela (2-3, 4.79), 1:10 p.m., ATTRM
https://www.greeleytribune.com/2022/06/18/kris-bryant-rockies-return-minnesota/ The Rockies’ Kris Bryant is on track to return in Minnesota next weekend – Greeley Tribune