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Rays up next: Rockies

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times
published June 21, 2002


SCOUTING REPORT: Because of where they play and how they play, the Rockies often look a lot like an American League team. They usually pile up inflated offensive numbers at Coors Field, the result of the spaciousness of the park and the altitude, and their pitching numbers spike as well. Storing baseballs in a humidor is supposed to make them heavier and help balance things a bit, though the Rockies and Yankees just combined for 70 runs in three games.

The Rockies looked like a new team when Clint Hurdle replaced Buddy Bell as manager after a 6-16 start, winning their first six. After Thursday's win over the Yankees, they are 22-22 since and have lost 12 of their past 16.

The Rockies have two of the game's most dangerous left-handed hitters in first baseman Todd Helton and rightfielder Larry Walker, who rank among the NL's top five in average and RBIs. Walker also has an NL-high 10 assists. Centerfielder Juan Pierre leads the league with 24 stolen bases.

The Colorado bullpen is sure to be a bit worn out after the Rockies allowed 41 runs the past three days.

TAMPA BAY CONNECTIONS: Rockies reliever Rick White spent 2 1/2 seasons with the Rays before being traded to the Mets in July 2000. ... Rockies starter Mike Hampton is a native of Brooksville and a graduate of Crystal River High. ... Hurdle was a teammate of Rays manager Hal McRae in Kansas City. ... Rockies player personnel director Bill Geivett and farm director Mike Hill worked for the Rays. ... Ex-Rays Bryan Rekar and Todd Belitz are pitching for the Rockies' Triple-A team.

ALL-TIME SERIES: This is the first meeting.

WHO'S HOT: Walker is 16-for-34 in his past nine games.

WHO'S NOT: Catchers Bobby Estalella and Gary Bennett are hitting a combined .222.


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