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Rockies acquire Jake Cave from Phillies, announce starting rotation

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Hoping to add more versatility and power to their bench, the Rockies acquired “gritty” veteran outfielder/first baseman Jake Cave from Philadelphia on Sunday.

“Jake comes with a toolset that profiles for us as a role player,” manager Bud Black said. “He has the ability to play all three positions in the outfield and the ability to play first base as well.

“He has some power and can hit a fastball. He’s a hard-nosed, gritty player. He can run, and he’s a solid defender.”

In return for the left-handed-hitting Cave, the Phillies received cash considerations. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Rockies transferred right-hander German Marquez to the 60-day injured list. Marquez, an All-Star in 2021, underwent Tommy John last May and is not scheduled to return until after the All-Star break.

Cave, 31, was a sixth-round pick by the Yankees in the 2011 draft and made his big league debut with the Minnesota in 2018. He spent five seasons with the Twins as a reserve outfielder, slashing .235/.297/.441.

Cave has a career slash line of .231/.293/.401 with 38 home runs and 139 RBIs in 400 major league games. He played in 65 games last season for Philadelphia, slashing .212/.272/.348 with five home runs and 21 RBIs, and he was on the Phillies’ postseason roster.

The acquisition of Cave means that outfielder Bradley Zimmer, who signed with Colorado on a minor-league deal, will not make the opening-day roster. The team released him.

Rotation set. Black announced his starting rotation on Sunday. Left-hander Kyle Freeland begins the season on Thursday when the Rockies open a four-game set against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Freeland will be followed by right-hander Cal Quantrill, lefty Austin Gomber and right-hander Ryan Feltner.

Dakota Hudson, a free-agent pickup, was named the fifth starter, ahead of righty Peter Lambert. Hudson is scheduled to make his first start for the Rockies on April 1 vs. the Cubs in Chicago. Lambert will begin the season as Colorado’s primary long reliever. Rule 5 draft acquisition Jonathan Molina, who was told Sunday that he made the team, will also see some time in long relief.

“We saw Peter in the (long-relief) role last year and we think he can be effective,” Black said. “Peter’s desire is to still start, but there was a need, along with Molina, to have another long man. I feel as though we need two guys. If we have two back-to-back bad games by a starter (Lambert and Molina) will be pitching.

“We like what we saw from both (Hudson and Lambert) this spring, but especially Hudson in the last couple of starts. That helped us solidify that decision.”

Hudson, the former Cardinals starter, has started four Cactus League games, putting up a 3.60 ERA with 11 strikeouts and seven walks over 10 innings.

Black said Lambert was “OK” with the decision, adding, “He’s a team player.”

Jones dodges major injury. Left fielder Nolan Jones feared the worst when he fouled a fastball off his right knee Saturday during a Cactus League game against the Reds. It turns out that he suffered a bruise and did not need X-rays. Jones said he would be ready to go for Thursday’s season opener, adding that he thought he would be able to play as soon as Monday.

But there were a few scary moments on Saturday when Jones had to be helped off the field and was later carted to the Rockies’ clubhouse.

“I thought it hit my kneecap and broke my kneecap,” Jones said Sunday morning. “Because there are, apparently, nerves that run under your kneecap and I hit a spot where my leg just shut down and I couldn’t feel my foot.”

Further examination showed that the ball missed Jones’ kneecap.

Molina’s moment. Molina, 22, was nervous when Black called him into the office Sunday morning. Molina understood that if the Rockies liked what he did this spring, they would keep him on the 26-man roster. If not, the Rockies would ship him back to Tampa Bay.

“I said, ‘Here’s the deal: I like you,’ ” Black said. “I was happy for him. He’s a really good kid and he’s got some promise.”

The Rockies also like Molina’s raw stuff.

“He’s got a mid-90s fastball with some carry, a really good feel for a changeup, like our scouts saw,” Black said.

Roster trimmed. The club reassigned left-hander Ty Blach, right-hander John Curtiss and catcher Willie MacIver to minor league camp. There is a chance that Blach could move on to another big-league team if he has a chance to make the roster. MacIver played well in Triple-A Albuquerque last season after recovering from a right shoulder injury he suffered in spring training.

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