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Rockies' Tracy harshly criticizes catcher's defensive mistakes

The SportsXchange

Colorado Rockies rookie catcher Wilin Rosario wasn't supposed to play Monday. He was scheduled to get a night off after a difficult defensive weekend at Philadelphia that included a brutal Sunday, when he was charged with four passed balls.

Rosario was going to get a chance to rest, regroup and get away from the action. Instead, he ended up pinch-running in the fourth inning of the Rockies' 6-5 win over the Giants when catcher Ramon Hernandez left with a leg injury.

And Rosario, who leads the majors with 19 passed balls, could easily have been charged with another when a Guillermo Moscoso pitch in the sixth hit the dirt just beneath Rosario and skipped away from him. It was a ball that should have been blocked or kept from going far enough to enable a runner to advance.

Passed ball or not, it was another example of Rosario's defensive shortcomings, which were glaring in Philadelphia and were criticized with uncharacteristic harshness by manager Jim Tracy before the game. Tracy is typically sparing when publicly criticizing a player, but that wasn't the case when talking about Rosario.

"You can't catch like that. You can't," Tracy said. "It put us in a bad spot in two games that we had chances to win. But the ball getting by changes the dynamics of decision-making. It creates opportunities for the other side of the field because it forces defenses that you don't want to play."

On Friday, reliever Will Harris was charged with a wild pitch in the ninth with one out that put runners on second and third for Nate Schierholtz. He grounded a game-winning single between first and second to give the Phillies a 3-2 victory.

"The ball Nate Schierholtz swung on a 3-2 count," Tracy said, "I know if our infield's back, I know for damn sure it's a forceout and it may be a 4-6-3 double play."

In the first game of a doubleheader Sunday, Rosario was charged with four passed balls. Two came in the ninth, leading to two intentional walks by Matt Belisle before John Mayberry Jr. won the game 3-2 with a single when left fielder Carlos Gonzalez made a diving attempt for the low line drive Mayberry hit but was unable to hold the ball.

Referring to Rosario's catching, Tracy said, "It's got to be better than that. It's got to get a hell of a lot better. It's not fair to the club. It's not fair to the pitching staff. It's not fair for pitchers to want to bury a breaking ball with two strikes. And I've seen a couple of them get left up in the zone, and sometimes there's part of me that's wondering why.

"But you've got to have a pitching staff that's completely confident that I can say, 'Hey, I can bounce this breaking ball because I know I'm going to get a checked swing' vs. 'I don't want it quite to hit the ground because if it gets by, I'm going to get beaten here.'

You don't want that mantra floating around."

Tracy said he hoped Rosario's problems were strictly mechanical because if they also become mental, that creates immense problems.

"I hope it's mechanical in nature," Tracy said. "I want to think it is. I think it is. I think there are some things we have to continue to work on, but we have to clean them up. I think it's mechanical in nature and you don't want it to get to the point where it becomes a combination of both. Because then you've got a problem."

Rockies catching coach Jerry Weinstein said he didn't think the shadows at Citizens Bank Park or the fact that Rosario was wearing sunglasses while catching caused his problems.

"I don't think it was those things," Weinstein said. "There are a lot of things involved here, but I just know that those balls need to be blocked. I was not happy with his stance and his setup. ... So in looking at the video, I think the that's part of the solution. He has to have a little wider base and he needs to set up a little sooner."
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