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Mark Townsend

Colorado's collision and other notable items from the weekend

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Don't worry, this post doesn't contain any in-depth analysis or hand-wringing based on a handful of plate appearances and innings pitched in the month of February. But it does contain a handful of meaningful or noteworthy happenings that took place over the opening weekend of Grapefruit and Cactus League play. Here are a few that caught my attention.

Rockies narrowly avoid disaster after big collision

After an offseason filled with excitement and optimism thanks to long-term extensions for superstars Troy Tulowitzki(notes) and Carlos Gonzalez(notes), Colorado Rockies fans had their wind knocked out and their heart skipping a few beats just two pitches into spring training.

On a little pop foul down the left-field line, three of Colorado's most important assets the aforementioned Gonzalez and Tulowitzki, along with third baseman Ian Stewart(notes) converged at near full speed. Tulowitzki was able to peel off and avoid contact, but Stewart and a sliding Gonzalez would collide (pictured).

Both men bounced to their feet, remained in the game, and appeared fine as the afternoon went along. However, we learned on Sunday that Stewart actually suffered a low-grade MCL strain on that play. That will cost him 3-4 days of activity and roughly a week of game action. In addition, Carlos Gonzalez sustained a bruised shin that leaves him day-to-day.

Thankfully that's the extent of the fallout for Colorado. Nothing like a really early reminder of how easily a franchise's outlook can change in the matter of seconds. Right, St. Louis?

Matt Kemp's(notes) hustle opens a few eyes

I did not see either Los Angeles Dodgers game over the weekend, so I'm going on the word of Hardball Talk's Craig Calcaterra.

Kemp led off the top of the second here at Tempe Diablo. He cracked a single up the middle. Then he stole second base. Then he advanced to third base on a grounder to short that a lot of guys would have held up on but on which Kemp had such a great jump that he would have beat the throw even if Erick Aybar(notes) had tried to make a play. Then Kemp tagged, hauled ass and scored on a shallow fly to center by Russ Mitchell(notes).

The way I see it, that was three instances of hustle in one at bat, his first of spring training.

Kemp followed up Saturday's brief, but inspiring effort with a couple of RBIs on Sunday.

There's no doubt a full functioning and motivated Matt Kemp would be a great boost to the Dodgers' outlook. That's not to say he completely mailed in the 2010 season, or even had a bad season. That's not the case by any means. But you know there's another level or two the 26-year-old can reach when (or if) everything starts clicking both mentally and physically.

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Fantasy Tip: Draft Andrew McCutchen(notes) in every league possible

I shouldn't have to go into detail about his 3-for-3 (HR, double, stolen base) effort in the Pittsburgh Pirates spring opener on Sunday. Just draft him. He's really good. Whether he had a good game on Sunday or not.

Two out, ninth inning home runs that tie a baseball game will get you noticed

Just ask Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Carlos Peguero of the Seattle Mariners.

Goldschmidt, who homered 35 times in the minors last season, blasted a three-run, 435-foot bomb off the Colorado Rockies Adam Jorgenson to send the first game at Salt River Field into extra innings. It was a home run that was best described in one word by teammate Andy Tracy(notes), "majestic."

Manager Kirk Gibson later noted there are a number of guys in the mix for the first base job in Arizona, and Goldschmidt can't be ruled out of that mix. Sounds like a name you might want to file away if you're in one of those NL only fantasy leagues.

As for the 24-year-old Peguero, it wasn't just his game-tying home run that impressed Mariners manager Eric Wedge. He immediately followed up with an outfield assist in the top half of the 10th inning, gunning down the potential go-ahead run at the plate with a throw from left field. Quite an impression to make for the 6-foot-5 outfielder looking to work his way up the depth chart.

And quite a fun weekend of baseball regardless of what was or wasn't at stake. It's just nice to have our favorite pastime back, and to know it's not going away for a long time.

Stay tuned to Big League Stew all day Monday as Dave Brown wraps up his time in Arizona while 'Duk begins his spring swing anew down in Florida's Grapefruit League.

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