Young arms keep rotation spinning
Jimenez, Morales crucial in Rockies' run, but Cook may return
DENVER -- The two kids with the electric stuff and matching high-wattage smiles landed from Colorado Springs a month apart.By mid-August, Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales were joined in helping take the Colorado Rockies down an unbelievable stretch arm-in-arm -- left and right, respectively. Now, the Latin American sensations wait to hear whether they'll remain together in the rotation to take the Rockies the final lap, in the World Series. The Dominican Republic's Jimenez is safe. But Venezuela's Morales, younger and sporting a few postseason lumps, would lose his spot in the rotation if the Rockies decide erstwhile ace Aaron Cook has fully recovered from a strained side muscle and is ready to contribute. That decision is still a day or two away. Rockies manager Clint Hurdle will delay as long as possible a choice he considers borderline unsavory. "Basically, it's brutal for me to get to this point in time and have to tell a couple guys that they can't participate in the World Series," Hurdle said Sunday afternoon. "This is the one part of the job that I would classify as brutal." If it's Cook, the Rockies would be regaining their Opening Day starter. If it's the 21-year-old Morales, he and Jimenez, 23, would comprise the youngest World Series tandem in 41 years. In 1966, the Orioles swept the Dodgers behind the precocious rotation of Dave McNally (23), Wally Bunker (21) and Jim Palmer (20). Hurdle will also take into consideration an illness that had Morales popping medicine pills in the clubhouse prior to Coors Field workouts late last week. It's a tough call for Hurdle even on pragmatic levels, a choice between a young, excitable pitcher who has potentially overpowering stuff but can be a risk on the big stage, or an experienced veteran who could bring a calming effect but hasn't pitched competitively in 10 weeks. Hurdle has already proven unafraid to tweak a winning combination. The Rockies were already a runaway machine, fresh off their Division Series sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies, when Hurdle decided to return Willy Taveras to the roster and into center field. After not having played for over a month, due to a strained quadriceps muscle, Taveras jumped aboard the speeding juggernaut and neither he nor the team missed a beat.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.