DENVER -- Rockies fans continue to watch third-base prospect Nolan Arenado's work at Triple-A Colorado Springs, and he's giving them plenty of reason to dream -- hitting .417 with three home runs, 11 doubles and 18 RBIs in 13 games.
With Chris Nelson playing well at third for the Rockies, there is no indication that a promotion is coming soon. Rockies player development director Jeff Bridich said the team needed to see Arenado, 22, accept being in Triple-A. That was an issue last year, when he slumped badly at Double-A Tulsa, with one of the reasons being that he was expecting a call-up that didn't come.
"He's doing things this year at this level coming out of Spring Training that he didn't do last year," Bridich said. "Which means he learned the lessons from last year that he needed to learn. He's controlling what he can control, and the results are following.
"As much as it is performance and some maturity in this game, it's the emotional and mental maturity that he is taking to his everyday stuff. That's what's impressive. I don't think there was anybody in this building that stopped believing in his talents."
The blip on Arenado's stat sheet is his four errors, but Bridich said those are happening because of his range.
"It's like last year, when I saw him in Tulsa, he ranges literally 8-10 steps to his left to cut a ball off that that the shortstop is literally ready to [backhand], then he tries to make throws off-balance," Bridich said. "His instincts and athleticism allow him to get to balls that not every third baseman can get to. That at times turns into difficult throws or off-balance stuff, and he's got to learn through experience."
Outman called up, Volstad sent down
DENVER -- A lights-out beginning at Triple-A Colorado Springs has earned left-handed relief pitcher Josh Outman a promotion to the Rockies for Friday night's opener of a three-game weekend series against the D-backs.
To make room for Outman, the Rockies optioned right-handed pitcher Chris Volstad to Colorado Springs. Volstad, 0-0, 8.53 ERA in four games, gave up one run in two innings at the end of Thursday's 11-3 victory over the Mets at Coors Field.
Rockies manager Walt Weiss said the number of left-handed hitters carried by the D-backs, whom the Rockies face in seven of the next 10 games, and Braves, who come to Denver Monday, figured in the decision. Outman, 1-0 with an 0.84 ERA in 10 2/3 innings over five games at Triple-A, can pitch in short or extended stints, much the way Volstad was slated to do, but his presence frees Weiss to use lefty Rex Brothers (1-0, 1.23 ERA) earlier in the game against a key lefty hitter.
"Our bullpen isn't necessarily designed for matchups exclusively, but with an extra lefty, that option is in play, as opposed to trying to save Brothers for later in the game, that eighth or ninth," Weiss said.
Outman went 1-0 with a 1.74 ERA in eight Spring Training games, but the Rockies felt Volstad showed excellent downward life on his pitches and Outman needed to improve that aspect. Also, Outman had four walks and six strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings. At Colorado Springs, Outman forced ground balls and had 14 strikeouts against four walks.
It's also a chance for Volstad, a starter until this season, to pitch regularly.
"Chris didn't perform poorly," Weiss said. "He's in a situation where he wasn't getting a lot of consistent work. Hopefully he'll go down there and get that consistent work. I imagine he'll be with again us at some point this year."
Young launching library reading program
DENVER -- The Rockies' Eric Young Jr. has seen fewer books in the hands of children and adults, and wants to do something about it.
Young is teaming with Denver Public Libraries and Volunteers of America to present readings through his new "Stealing Some Smarts" literacy program. The first of his free events, taking place one Saturday a month over the next six months, will be Saturday at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library at 2401 Welton Street in Denver, from noon to 1 p.m. Young will appear at a different library over the course of the program.
Young's first reading will be from three children's books. Other readings will feature books from adults, as well.
"I enjoy reading, and right now libraries are starting to become obsolete, possibly because of the Internet, and fewer people are reading these days," Young said. "I want to bring more attention to reading actual books, and getting back into libraries."
Young said he realizes that it's possible young people are reading just as much, if not more, electronically, but there's no way of knowing that. Plus, he finds the public library a valuable feature of any community.
"Why not draw more attention back to libraries, plus those provide jobs for people. If you can encourage reading and get them back into the library at the same time, I feel it's good. The main goal is to make sure we get people into reading. I enjoy it. I read all the time on the plane. I want to share my love of it."
Young's passion for reading is leading him to further his education. After turning down a football offer from Villanova out of high school, Young played at Chandler Gilbert (Ariz.) Community College for a season before signing with the Rockies. However, he didn't leave his college dreams behind.
"I took some online classes, but I've come to the realization that I'm a person that needs to be in the classroom," Young said. "This offseason I want to take some courses somewhere in Arizona, where I live in the offseason. Reading is a great way of learning new things, even old things that you want to enhance.
"It's a promise that I made to my parents when they agreed for me to go pro, that I would one day go back and get my degree. I'm going to stay true to that."
Young originally wanted to be a business management major, but he's not as strongly committed. He'll make a decision after taking more liberal arts courses.
Baylor goes into Colorado Sports Hall of Fame
DENVER -- The D-backs pulled out their extra-innings victory over the Yankees without the presence of hitting coach Don Baylor on Thursday night. Baylor took the day off for his induction ceremony into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.
"It was surreal, really," Baylor said of the recognition he earned for managing the Rockies over their first six seasons. "It was kind of like, 'I don't believe they're doing this.' To do it as a manager, you can't do it without good players and coaches that support you, good or bad, on everything that I decide to do as a manager. They might agree with you and sometimes they might not. Guys have to play good for you. They don't put bad coaches in."
Before Baylor's Rockies even took the field, he gave the expansion club some legitimacy, giving big league baseball a foothold behind the most recognizable face in the franchise. Baylor's first managerial gig followed a 19-year career that started with the Orioles and took him to the A's, Angels, Yankees, Red Sox, and Twins. He was a three-time American League Silver Slugger and the American League Most Valuable Player in 1979.
Baylor entered the Hall along with Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote, Broncos safety Steve Atwater and punter Don Cockroft, big league pitcher Stan Williams, and golfer Steve Jones, the last three being native Coloradans. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin, another native, were recognized as the 2012 Athletes of the Year, in the professional and amateur categories.
"There are some guys that are in it that are Colorado guys that were born here," Baylor said. "[Major League Baseball Hall of Famer] Goose Gossage, I saw him last night. I went in with Adam Foote, I know him. [NHL Hall-of-Famer] Joe Sakic has been in for a while. Stan Williams was a big league pitcher. Peyton Manning stopped by last night, he was there."
Baylor's not quick to miss a day of work, but the event was obviously important to him, as evidenced by the guests he brought to Denver to help him celebrate the honor.
"It was 900 people, a little gathering," Baylor said. "I had my high school baseball coach there. My junior high, high school, college roommate, he was there. We started out in the seventh grade together. My son was there, and my wife. So it was a good deal, kind of reflecting back to 1992-93."
After two years posting a .414 and .455 winning percentage, Baylor led the Rockies to the postseason in 1995, the quickest a franchise had ever made the playoffs from inception. He won Manager of the Year and put up two more 83-win seasons, having left a lasting legacy in the town he helped transform into a big league city.
The Rockies acknowledged Baylor's induction on the field before Friday's game, presenting him with a team jersey. Baylor is already in the Angels Hall of Fame, but the Rockies have yet to open one of their own. In a season-long celebration of their 20-year anniversary, however, the seeds for a Rockies Hall of Fame are taking root.
"After 20 years, they'll get around to it one of these times," Baylor said. "I asked them if they have Eric Young's first home run ball [from the first at-bat in the first home game]. They don't have that. EY tried to get it, but it went into the stands.
• Rockies outfielder Michael Cuddyer returned to the starting lineup on Friday after missing Thursday's 11-3 victory over the Mets because of a tight right hamstring.
Both of Cuddyer's hamstrings were tight after Tuesday's doubleheader sweep of the Mets in frigid temperatures, although the right was of greater concern. But Cuddyer, who entered Friday hitting .367 with three home runs, 12 RBIs, a double and a triple, said sitting out Thursday afternoon, which tied a Rockies record-low at 28 degrees, was merely a precaution.
• Rockies left-hander Edwar Cabrera, who hoped to compete for a rotation spot but was placed on the 60-day disabled list early in Spring Training with a left shoulder impingement, faced hitters for the first time on Friday. He'll have another session on Tuesday. Cabrera will pitch in extended spring training, with an eye toward going on a 30-day Minor League rehab assignment that will end in time for him to be eligible to be reinstated on May 30. Then the Rockies would have to decide whether to activate him or option him to the Minors.
• The Rockies entered Friday with a 6-3 record in the National League West, with all the wins against the Padres and all the losses to the Giants. Of the next 14 games, 10 will be in the division -- seven against the D-backs, three against the Dodgers.
"It's important, no question about it," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "The bottom line is we want to click off wins, regardless who we're playing. But within your division you play those guys a lot. It's important to play well in those games. It's a tough division. Particularly at home within our division, there's some importance to those games."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.