2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Bichette’s approach with Rockies: Fine tune, not overwhelm

    Tue, February 26, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    Dante Bichette knows Coors Field as well as anyone.

    Now he’s hoping to help the Rockies win there, and elsewhere, more often.

    The Rockies hitting coach, who spent seven seasons in their lineup, is in his first spring training as a superior. But he doesn’t view it that way. Instead, Bichette said he’s simply here to lend an ear and smattering of advice when the players seek him out.

    “My thing is not to go to them, but let them come to me,” Bichette told me today in the Rockies clubhouse at Salt River Fields. “I’m not changing swings until they come to me.”

    So far, the response from players has been overwhelmingly positive. That goes for the young’uns and the veterans. After Todd Helton took batting practice this morning, he left the cage with Bichette on his left and Vinny Castilla on his right.

    Not a shabby trio.

    “They’ve responded well. It’s early. But it’s been a good fit so far,” Bichette said. “I think it’s going to work out well. These guys pick up little things real quick. You can see them; they are wide-eyed, looking for any bit of knowledge they can get to make them a better player.”

    One man’s guess: the addition of Bichette to the field staff turns into a significant development for the Rockies.

    I’ll add the rest of today’s coverage roundup from Scottsdale when it posts on Gazette.com.

    -Monday notebook: Tulo continues return with three innings of work.

    -Twitpics: Today’s view at Salt River Fields.

    @Klee_Gazette

  • Cheyenne Mountain’s Brandon McCarthy: Colorado still a favorite

    Mon, February 25, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    Diamondbacks righthander Brandon McCarthy, who attended Cheyenne Mountain and Lamar Community College, returns to Colorado Springs “every other year or so,” usually for Thanksgiving. His wife, Amanda, has family in the Springs.

    “Growing up there, I didn’t like the cold. The days where it snowed, I liked. The days where it’s not snowing but it’s still cold, that sucks. Then you realize it’s gray and (dumb) and I don’t like this,” McCarthy said in his usual straightforward manner today in the Diamondbacks clubhouse at Salt River Fields.

    “But the summer — we always say that if we could move somewhere in the summer, it would be back in Colorado. Perfect weather every day, 2 o’clock storm, perfect. We were back there a couple years ago and I remember saying, ‘Now we remember how much we like this place.’”

    I’m simply pleased he’s pitching again. Here’s why. Wrote a column for Monday’s Gazette about McCarthy’s return to the mound after the unsettling incident on Sept. 5 of last season.

    What stood out to me in our conversation: McCarthy wants mandatory helmets like he wants another line drive to the dome.

    He’s more about personal accountability and less about more regulation. Great minds, Brandon.

    “I don’t think about it (the possibility of another incident). I don’t anticipate anything cropping up,” McCarthy said. “I’ve thrown my BPs and there was nothing. I treat it just like any other day.”

    McCarthy is scheduled to make his D-Backs spring training debut Wednesday. Follow him on Twitter here. Follow Amanda on Twitter here. You won’t be disappointed.

    “She constantly updates me: ‘I’m at 26,000 followers.’ I think people relate to hers because hers is about every-day, normal things,” Brandon said. “I’m more cynical. It’s the way she talks in real life. And mine is the way we talk in real life. They are pretty accurate reflections of who we are.”

    Today’s roundup from Salt River Fields:

    -Column on Brandon McCarthy.

    -Sunday notebook on the Rockies.

    -Twitter photos.

    @Klee_Gazette

  • Good-news Rockies spring forward

    Sun, February 24, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    If spring training is a time for baseball optimism, and it certainly feels that way here in a desert oasis like Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, let’s take this opportunity to say optimistic things about the Rockies.

    Yes, the Rockies, who, last time we saw them, were 64-98.

    First, the pitching. Let Walt Weiss tell it.

    “I thought all our pitchers threw the ball very well,” the first-year, first-time manager said in his office after an 11-2 win against Arizona.

    Next, Troy Tulowitzki. Tulo missed 113 games last season and underwent surgery on a groin injury. The star shortstop went 1-for-2 with a single and earned positive marks from his manager, the former shortstop.

    “That’s part of that plan, that we communicate throughout the season. It just wanted to make sure everything was going as well as it looked,” Weiss said. “He wanted to run the bases if he got on that last at-bat. That’s a good mental test for him today that I thought he passed very well. … We’ll ease (him) into it and we’ll build it up. But he’ll be off (Sunday).”

    There were other positives, such as my on-time flight and the 60-degree weather, but we won’t talk about all that while the good people of Colorado battle blizzards and such. No reason to make enemies.

    The Rockies and Diamondbacks, who share the Salt River complex, play again at 1:10 Sunday.

    -Saturday’s column: Link.

    -Saturday’s notes: Link.

    -Saturday’s photo: Link.

    Twitter: @Klee_Gazette

  • The state of our basketball state

    Tue, February 19, 2013 by Paul Klee with no comments

    Here’s when I knew Colorado is adjusting to life as a college basketball state (at least from Broncos-season-is-over through the end of March):

    A half-dozen Buffs gave me the business for covering No. 24 CSU’s big win against San Diego State on Wednesday — and not covering CU’s big win against Arizona on Thursday. Fair enough. Trust me, I desperately wanted to be at Coors Events Center when CU avenged the bad-call loss in Tucson. But there were other duties (a different column) to care for.

    (On a related note, since I haven’t written this elsewhere, here’s what Yahoo! Sports bracketologist Brad Evans said when I asked him how the NCAA tournament committee will view CU’s bad-call loss at Arizona: “If Colorado truly emerges as a bubble team, it will be weighed, and likely heavily. CU had a clear ‘W’ against an uber-quality opponent on the road snatched away.”)

    It is refreshing to see our state embrace its college basketball programs. If their fans are mad at me, they care. Two are in the RPI top 20 (CU, CSU) and another features one of the nation’s great scorers (AFA, Michael Lyons). They should care.

    My responsibilities as the Denver sports columnist are primarily with the Broncos and Rockies, as well as the Nuggets and Avs. But when there is an opportunity to commentate on college basketball… that’s where I hope to be, since that’s where my sports heart always will be. And there’s not a hotter topic right now than Tad Boyle, Larry Eustachy and Dave Pilipovich’s teams.

    As for this blog, I’m hoping it becomes an interactive place where we can share a good back-and-forth. And if you’re not one for the comments section, feel free to email (paul.klee@gazette) or on Twitter (@Klee_Gazette). I will respond quickly.

    Coming in Wednesday’s Gazette: The post-All-Star-break state of the Nuggets, who host the Celtics at Pepsi Center tonight.

    Klee