TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -Seth Smith might have hit for the cycle had he stayed in the game for a fourth at-bat.
Come on, he said afterward, it's spring training.
Smith had a three-run homer along with a single and double as the Colorado Rockies routed the Arizona Diamondbacks 11-1 in the teams' spring opener on Thursday.
Jason Hammel, with the fifth spot in the Colorado rotation locked up, threw just 23 pitches in two innings. He allowed a run and four hits with one strikeout and no walks.
Two Arizona pitchers in the fight for a spot at the end of the rotation saw action. Starter Billy Buckner allowed two first-inning runs but struck out four of the last five batters he faced.
Smith singled in the first, doubled in the third, then homered to deep right-center before taking the rest of the day off.
``The season's a month away. I've got a long way to get to where I want to be,' he said ``The ball was carrying today. I barreled a couple up. But it doesn't matter. You guys know that.'
The Rockies enter the spring full of optimism following their resurgent run to the playoffs a year ago.
``It was a very impressive first day,' Colorado manager Jim Tracy said. ``I know we've been back there for a couple of weeks working on a lot of stuff and I'm really, really pleased.'
The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, have emphasized the fundamentals after a last-place finish in the NL West.
That emphasis was not on display on Thursday, when Arizona had numerous sloppy plays.
``I thought we had some good things today,' Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch insisted. ``We had some misplays as well, but that's what we're here for.'
Buckner acknowledged the pressure on the pitchers battling to make the rotation.
``Every time you get on the mound you have something to prove,' he said. ``I know the eyes of the staff and the front office are on me, so you want to do well. But you can't think too much about that. You've just got to go out there and do your job.'
Hammel, 10-8 with a 4.33 ERA last season, said it's a lot different taking the mound knowing the rotation spot is almost certainly his. Last season, he was in the same kind of fight Buckner is in.
``They invested a lot of confidence in me and I have the opportunity to come out and be able to work on stuff,' Hammel said. ``... Last year at this time I was already trying to impress.'
It was the first game of the final spring season in Tucson for both clubs. They will share a new stadium next spring on Salt River Indian Community land near Scottsdale.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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