Valaika Returns to Rockies Roster; Almonte Sent Out
Pat Valaika, who can play all four infield positions and provide a right-handed alternative in the outfield, was recalled by the Rockies on Saturday from Triple-A Albuquerque, getting the Rockies back to a four-man bench.
The Rockies had been limited to three players off the bench the last two days, when right-hander Yency Almonte was called up to provide protection for a bullpen that had been overworked. Almonte, who appeared in games on Thursday and Friday, will return to the rotation for the Isotopes.
The Rockies bench on Thursday and Friday consisted of the two catchers who weren't starting and the fourth outfielder. If an infield need had arisen, most likely, Gerardo Parra would have taken over at first base, and Ian Desmond, a shortstop in his professional career until two years ago, would have filled in at the infield void.
In addition to this move, the Rockies are looking at making two adjustments with the bullpen on Wednesday, after relievers Mike Dunn and Scott Oberg make rehab appearances for Triple-A Colorado Springs in Fresno on Saturday, and for High-A Lancaster in Modesto on Monday, and then join the Rockies in San Francisco, where they open a series on Tuesday.
Those moves would involve pitchers, most likely lefty Harrison Musgrove and Brooks Pounders.
There also are indications that right-hander Carlos Esteves, on the disabled list with an oblique injury, will go on a rehab assignment next week. Esteves will most likely have a more extended rehab time in light of the fact he made only four appearances at Triple-A Albuquerque, working 3 2/3 innings before being sidelined on April 16.
Valaika, 25, is making his third appearance on the Rockies roster this season. He was most recently optioned to Albuquerque on May 26. He hit .211 during the most-recent four week stint in the minors, but had hit .312 with a double, triple, two home runs and nine RBI in his last eight games.
The Rockies top pinch-hitter and extra man at the big-league level last year, Valiaika has struggled in the big leagues this year. He has hit .120 (9-for-75) with two runs scored, four doubles, one RBI, six walks and 22 strikeouts. It's a far cry from a year ago when he hit .258 for the Rockies, including a .325 average when he came off the bench.
Almonte, 24, was recalled on Thursday for his first stint on the Major League roster and made his Major League debut that evening, pitching a hitless inning of relief with a sacrifice fly. On Friday, he was charged with two unearned runs.
Alomonte, however, is looked at as a starting pitcher, and will go back into the rotation with the Isotopes. Originally signed by the Angels as a 17th-round draft choice in 2012, Almonte was acquired by the Rockies from the White Sox for right-handed pitcher Tommy Kahnle in November of 2015.