Nine Players Invited to Rockies Spring Training Camp

The Colorado Rockies announced today several of the club’s non-roster players for this year’s Major League Spring Training camp.

Of the nine non-roster players announced today, five appeared in at least one Major League game with the Rockies last season: outfielder Scott Podsednik, left-handed pitchers Glendon Rusch and Cedrick Bowers, catcher Edwin Bellorin and infielder Jonathan Herrera. Additionally, infielder Luis Gonzalez, who has not played in the Majors since 2006, spent three years as a member of the Rockies from 2004-2006.

Podsednik, who turns 33 on March 18, hit .253 with one home run, 15 RBI and 12 stolen bases in 93 games as a reserve outfielder for the Rockies last year. A non-roster invitee to last year’s Spring Training camp, Podsednik was added to the Rockies Opening Day roster and spent the entire season with the Major League club, missing just 23 games while on the disabled list with a fractured left pinkie finger. His 93 games marked his highest total since appearing in 139 games for the White Sox in 2006. With 57 plate appearances as a pinch-hitter, the most by a Rockie since 2004, Podsednik ranked 10th in the Majors in that category. He also made 22 starts batting in the leadoff position with a .275 (25-for-91) average and a .343 on-base percentage from that spot. He hit .308 (12-for-39) with runners in scoring position and led all Rockies with a .344 (11-for-32) average in that situation prior to the All-Star break.

In four seasons from 2003-2006, Podsednik recorded at least 40 stolen bases in each season, including a career-high 70 swipes in 2004. Since 2003, the former All-Star ranks tied for 4th in the Majors with 236 stolen bases. The speedy outfielder hit .286 (14-for-49) with 3 triples, 2 home runs and 6 stolen bases in 12 postseason games for the White Sox in 2005. In Game 2 of the World Series vs. Houston, he hit a game-ending home run off Brad Lidge, the 14th walk-off home run in World Series history. In 750 games with Colorado (2008), Chicago-AL (2005-07), Milwaukee (2003-04) and Seattle (2001-02), Podsednik owns a .271 career average with 132 doubles, 28 home runs and 406 runs scored. In 2003, he became the fourth rookie since 1900 to hit .300 with 100 runs scored and 40 stolen bases.

Rusch, 34, made 35 appearances, including nine starts, for the Rockies and Padres in 2008. He went 4-3 with a 4.78 ERA (64.0 ip, 34 er) for the Rockies, going 4-2 with a 5.05 ERA (46.1 ip, 26 er) as a starter. The left-hander signed a Minor League contract with the Rockies on May 17 and became the ninth starter used by the club when his contract was purchased on from Triple-A Colorado Springs on May 31. He made 12 relief appearances for the Padres from April 4-May 9, posting a 1-2 record with a 6.41 ERA (19.2 ip, 14 er).

In 331 games (220 starts) with Colorado (2008), San Diego (2007-08), Chicago-NL (2004-06), Milwaukee (2002-03), New York-NL (1999-01) and Kansas City (1997-99), Rusch is 65-99 with a 5.02 ERA (1358.2 ip, 813 er). He has two double-digit victory campaigns (11 in 2000 and 10 in 2002) in his career.

Bellorin, who turns 27 in February, has appeared in just six games with the Rockies since 2007. He went 1-for-3 in the Majors after receiving a September call-up last season. The primary catcher at Triple-A Colorado Springs in 2008, Bellorin hit .293 (98-for-335) with 5 home runs and 65 RBI in 87 games for the Sky Sox. He owns a .269 career average (646-for-2405) with 33 home runs and 341 RBI in 10 Minor League seasons. Originally signed by the Dodgers as a non-drafted free agent in 1998, the Venezuelan native was singed by Colorado as a free agent on December 1, 2006.

Bowers, 30, and Herrera, 24, both made the Major League debuts with the Rockies in 2008. The left-handed reliever, Bowers, made five appearances from July 2-July 10, posting a 13.50 ERA (6.2 ip, 10 er) with 5 strikeouts. He finished his Triple-A season at Colorado Springs with a 6-1 record and a 3.74 ERA (65.0 ip, 27 er) in 35 games (two starts). In nine Minor League seasons (1996-2003, 2008), Bowers is 50-54 with a 4.03 ERA (930.2 ip, 417 er) in 276 games (138 starts). He did not pitch for an affiliated Minor League team in the United States from 2004 to 2007 but has spent time in Japan pitching for both the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles and the Yokohama BayStars and the Hanwha Eagles in Korea. Bowers signed a Minor League contract with the Rockies on January 25, 2008. Herrera, the switch-hitting infielder, hit .230 (14-for-61) in 28 games for the Rockies in 2008. During that time he played 21 games at second base (12 starts) and two games at shortstop (one start). He spent the majority of the year at Colorado Springs, where he hit .310 (70-for-226) with 3 home runs and 31 RBI. Herrera, who signed with the Rockies as a Minor League free agent when he was 17, is entering his eighth season with the organization.

The 29-year-old Gonzalez is seeking a return to the Rockies organization after playing the last two seasons (2007-08) for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan. The infielder spent all three of his Major League seasons (2004-06) in a Rockies uniform, hitting .283 (248-for-875) with 23 home runs and 98 RBI. Gonzalez was the club’s Opening Day second baseman in 2004 and 2006. He set career highs in several offensive categories, including games (128), at-bats (404), runs (51), hits (118), doubles (25) and RBI (44) in 2005. Acquired by Colorado from Cleveland in the Major League phase of the 2003 Rule 5 Draft, Gonzalez was originally signed by the Indians as a non-drafted free agent on July 5, 1996.

The remaining non-roster invitees also have Major League experience with teams other than the Rockies: right-handed pitcher Matt Belisle, outfielder Dan Ortmeier and catcher Paul Phillips.

Belisle, 28, spent parts of five Major League seasons with Cincinnati (2003-08), going 16-22 with a 5.06 ERA (341.2 ip, 192 er) in 132 games (43 starts). He went 1-4 with a 7.28 ERA (29.2 ip, 24 er) in six starts for the 2008 Reds club before undergoing season-ending surgery to repair the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on August 19. The right-hander posted career highs in wins (8), games started (30), innings pitched (177.2) and strikeouts (125) in 2007. He was originally selected by the Atlanta Braves in the second round of the 1998 First-Year Player Draft.

Ortmeier, 27, is a versatile defender who has played all three outfield positions for San Francisco in his four seasons with the Major League club (2005-08). Last season he appeared in 38 games for the Giants, hitting .219 (14-for-64) with 6 doubles and 5 RBI. He also made his first appearance on an Opening Day roster with the Giants in 2008. The former switch-hitter owns a lifetime .255 average (65-for-255) with 6 home runs and 24 RBI in 124 games. Ortmeier has hit .266 with 133 doubles, 24 triples, 63 home runs and 322 RBI in 635 Minor League games. He was a third-round selection by the Giants in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft.

Phillips, 31, finished last season with the American League Central Division champion White Sox, going 0-for-2 in just four games in September. He spent the majority of the season at Triple-A Charlotte, where he hit .269 (68-for-253) with 15 doubles, 2 home runs and 17 RBI in 73 games. He also threw out 29.5 percent (23-of-78) of attempted base stealers with the Knights. A non-roster invitee to Spring Training with the White Sox last season, Phillips has also played for Kansas City. He spent time with the Major League club in parts of four seasons from 2004 to 2007. In 62 games with the White Sox (2008) and Royals (2004-07), Phillips has compiled a .255 average (39-for-153) with 2 home runs and 16 RBI. He was selected by Kansas City in the ninth round of the 1998 First-Year Player Draft.