SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Rockies’ Ramiel Tapia has continually proven himself in the minors, but now it’s time for him to translate that talent to the majors.
It’s a crucial spring training for the 25-year-old Tapia, because he’s out of minor-league options.
“We’ll see if he makes the 25-man roster,” manager Bud Black said. “If he does, he’s capable of playing all three outfield positions. He can be moved around, pick guys up in the outfield. He can be a bat off the bench, pinch hit, start games.”
Black is a fan of Tapia’s talent, but he stressed that Tapia needs more consistency if he’s going to be Colorado’s fourth outfielder. With the departure of veteran outfielders Carlos Gonzales and Gerardo Parra, the opportunity is certainly wide open for Tapia.
“He’s capable, talent-wise, of being a complete player,” Black said. “Now he has to finish it off.”
Tapia shined at Triple-A Albuquerque last season, slashing .302/.352/.495, with 11 home runs and 21 steals in 24 attempts. But he got precious little playing time with the Rockies, batting .200 (5-for-25) in 25 games (three starts).
Tapia is aware of his situation. To that end, he worked overtime during the offseason in his native Dominican Republic, concentrating on becoming a better corner outfielder. He’s also concentrating on becoming more productive off the bench.
“I’m looking for a good year,” he said. “I have an opportunity right now, so I’m ready for everything. It’s a little bit different not being able to play every day like (in the minors), so I’m working on that.”
Slip-slider. Veteran right-hander Chad Bettis, competing for the final spot in the rotation, started Saturday’s opening Cactus League game against Arizona. Bettis’ primary objective this spring is to hone his slider into a weapon he can mix with his fastball and changeup.
The pitch is a work in progress, as illustrated by the three-run home run the Diamondbacks’ Steven Souza Jr. plastered to left field in the first inning.
“That (pitch) is not one you want to throw in a game,” Bettis said. “It just backed up. I felt like a threw a couple of good (sliders) in the game today, but that was one of the bad ones.”
Why so much emphasis on the slider?
“It gives me more versatility, instead of relying so much on my changeup,” he said. “It will help me miss bats. It is a weapon.”
Quotable. “I love it. Jon has a lot of pride in his performance and what he does out there. He feels as though at times over the last three years, some games have gotten away from him, and that bothers him. And he wants to do everything he can to turn that around.” — Black, when asked about starter Jon Gray’s vow to be a more aggressive, attacking pitcher this season.
Footnote. Star shortstop Trevor Story had a scary moment in the fourth inning when he was hit by a pitch in the right elbow by Jimmie Sherfy. Story was immediately removed from the game, but he was diagnosed with a contusion and should be fine in a day or two.