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Batter Up

We asked Colorado Rockies skipper Walt Weiss about how his lineup works.

—Photo courtesy of Colorado Rockies

Inside the colorado rockies’ dugout, bench coach Tom Runnells hangs a lineup card on the cement wall before each game. The batting order, the bullpen, the bench players—everyone who is available to play is listed. (The card below is part of a real one from the Rockies’ 10-2 win over the San Diego Padres last year.) How skipper Walt Weiss and his coaches shuffle the lineup—taking into consideration injuries, hot streaks, slumps, and game situations—can mean the difference between a W and an L. Here, Weiss explains his philosophy on who gets put where and tells us whom we should be paying attention to at Coors Field on opening day (April 8).

1. The Table-Setter
Weiss says a good leadoff man has to be “a good runner who gets on base for the power-hitting run producers behind him.” Look for newly acquired Gerardo Parra, who will play left field, or bearded center fielder Charlie Blackmon to kick-start the offense in 2016.

2. The All-Arounder
The number two spot is usually filled by a strong situational hitter (for example, a player who can bunt the leadoff hitter from first to second base). But Weiss often moves a player up from the middle of the order so that “the lineup is more dangerous earlier on.”

3–5. The Power Players
In the third, fourth, and fifth lineup spots, expect to see players who knock in RBIs and have no problem going yard. Third baseman Nolan Arenado (pictured), who led Major League Baseball with 130 RBIs in 2015, and right fielder Carlos Gonzalez (who ranked third in the National League with 40 home runs) make a perfect righty-lefty duo.

6–7. The Young Guns
Consider the sixth and seventh lineup spots something of a training ground. The players in these slots are typically younger and haven’t yet shown where they naturally fit best, but they are responsible for getting base hits that drive home the power hitters ahead of them.

8. The Intentional Walker
Hitting eighth is often a thankless job, and Weiss admits it isn’t easy on a player’s psyche. By batting right before the pitcher, the eighth hitter will often get walked so the opponent can face an easier out.

9. The Pitcher
Fans don’t expect a pitcher to blast home runs to the center field fountains, so they’re happy enough with someone who can pull off a well-timed sacrifice fly or even a ground out that advances base runners.

Watch for DJ LeMahieu
Second baseman DJ LeMahieu hit in every spot in the order during the 2015 season but took to the plate the most often in the number two slot (286 of 564 appearances in 150 games).

Watch for Nick Hundley
Hundley—who is taking over the starting catcher spot full time this year after an injury ended his season this past September—typically hits in the sixth, seventh, or eighth position.

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Batter Up

Every season, Rockies players pick the tune that’ll play as they stride up to home plate. At press time, 2012’s at-bat songs were still TBD, so we asked some of Denver’s bigwigs to choose a “walk-up” song for themselves.

“Satisfaction” the Rolling Stones —Frank Bonanno, chef and restaurateur

“Brick House” the Commodores —Michael Hancock, mayor of Denver

“I Gotta Feeling” the Black Eyed Peas —Kelly Brough, president and CEO, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce

“When I’m Sixty Four” the Beatles —Maruca Salazar, executive director, Museo de las Americas

“I’m Shipping Up to Boston” the Dropkick Murphys —Jim Tracy, manager, Colorado Rockies

______ Exclusive:

“One” by Metallica —Pablo Mastroeni, midfielder, Colorado Rapids

Anything from the Eagles, especially “Peaceful Easy Feeling” or “Desperado”—Chuck Morris, president and CEO, AEG Live Rocky Mountains

“Cuzacan” by the Boxing Gandhis —Kim Jordan, CEO, New Belgium Brewing

“Rain Is a Good Thing” by Luke Bryan —Sarah Anderson, musician, Paper Bird

“Remember the Name” by Fort Minor —Tom Danielson, pro cyclist, Garmin-Cervelo

…and 5280 staffers— pick their tunes at

This article was originally published in 5280 April 2012.
Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer is an award-winning writer and editor based in Denver. You can find more of her work at

Batter Up

The Colorado Rockies get new spring training digs.

Don’t fret, baseball fans: Spring training has finally arrived. The Colorado Rockies make their annual migration south to Arizona this month for spring training in the 15-team Cactus League. Tulo, CarGo, and an aging Todd Helton will be swinging the bat at a brand-new facility: Salt River Fields at Talking Stick near Scottsdale. The complex—which will also be used by division rival Arizona Diamondbacks—features 12 practice fields and an 11,000-seat stadium.

It’s about time. The Rockies’ old spring training home was Hi Corbett Field in Tucson, an aging structure built in 1937. “It was the oldest facility in all of spring training,” says Salt River Fields’ general manager David Dunne. Now, the Rockies have an 85,000-square-foot clubhouse. “I don’t know if they had 15,000 square feet at Hi Corbett,” Dunne jokes.

In a way, the Rockies’ move to Scottsdale was forced on them after the Chicago White Sox departed Tucson for the Phoenix metro area after the 2008 season. That left the Rockies and the Diamondbacks as the only two teams training in Tucson, meaning that they would need to travel nearly two hours for games against the other Cactus League teams. The Diamondbacks and Rockies decided to join forces on a new facility and work began on the complex in 2009.

The facility sits on Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community land, an area where Native Americans have played ball games for thousands of years. This season, add baseball to that sporting legacy. “You’re really getting an up-close-and-personal baseball experience,” Dunne says. “The amenities are unmatched at any spring training facility.” To wit: Fans can walk past the batting cages at the left and right field entrances or stand right next to the bullpens along the first and third baselines. “That’s as close as you’re going to get to a major league guy warming up,” Dunne says.