Rockies Just Want Healthy Year From Gomez





SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ.—During spring training last year, Rockies coach Rich Dauer, who instructs the infielders, made an assessment about shortstop Hector Gomez that was both glowing and, in retrospect, haunting.

"He's really a tremendous kid, loves to work, loves to learn but he hasn't been on the field the last couple years long enough," Dauer said. "If he would have played the last couple years, I wouldn't be surprised if he'd be pushing for a major league job."

Alas, the often-injured Gomez was limited by a back injury to 104 at-bats last year and was scratched from the Arizona Fall League. He also had to deal with the death of his newborn son last June. But based on Gomez's condition at the outset of spring training, maybe the worst is over.

"He is full-go in terms of his health," farm director Marc Gustafson said. "He looks great. He's moving around well. He's swinging the bat well. Everything is pain free."

Gomez injured his back in Double-A Tulsa's second game last season. Overextending himself during his rehab, he developed a stress fracture in his lower back.

In the past three seasons, Gomez, 23, has just 445 at-bats due to a stress fracture in his left shin, Tommy John surgery and a groin injury in addition to his woes last year.

Gomez is scheduled to begin this year back at Tulsa playing shortstop. He's capable of playing third base as well as second, where he'll likely end up with Troy Tulowitzki entrenched at shortstop, but any position switch is down the road.

Gomez has had 500 at-bats in just one season—2007 at low Class A Asheville—and the Rockies would love to see him cross that threshold this year.

"He needs to be on the field every day," Gustafson said. "We've talked to him about that. And the focus that he has right now, he's in a good place.

"He is a very, very talented player. You can't try to do more than what you're capable of, and with him, it's just a matter of playing."

ROCKY ROADS

• Lefthanders Rex Brothers and Keith Weiser, righthanders Alan Johnson and Adam Jorgenson, shortstop Thomas Field, first baseman Ben Paulsen and outfielders Charlie Blackmon and Tim Wheeler, all homegrown, are in their initial big league camp.

• Third baseman Darin Holcomb, who was sidelined last season with back trouble, has been swinging without pain in preparation for minor league camp.