Notes: Holliday dishes out barbs
Star slugger's teasing of teammates keeps Rockies loose
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Matt Holliday has a knack for delivering timely hits for the Rockies. Evidently, he can even come up with the nutritional advice just in time.
Holliday and his teammates gathered at a table in the Hi Corbett Field clubhouse for a lunch of nutritious sandwiches, ignoring a table cheesy bean dip and tortilla chips. Teammate Seth Smith nearly gave in before Holliday peeked over his shoulder.
"Hey," Holliday yelled. "Why don't you get the Baked Lays."
Holliday followed with jokes about having to do extra time on the exercise bike to make up for less-healthy choices, with teammates laughing. Smith changed his mind. Nothing like a good barb, complete with useful information, among teammates.
"I was just teasing," Holliday said with a smile.
Such exchanges occur often around the Rockies. And, although there isn't a stat to measure what camaraderie and good-natured ribbing does for a ballclub, Holliday said players believe the way they interact off the field influences what happens on it. After seeing the Rockies mature last season and make a trip to the World Series, who's to say the clubhouse mood isn't a factor?
"I don't necessarily think it's huge, but the fact we get along so well is definitely important," Holliday said. "The team chemistry, sincerely caring about one another and pulling for one another, definitely helps in a team atmosphere. I think as much time as we spend together, if you enjoy that time, it's going to be a happier atmosphere.
"We do a good job of keeping each other in check. No one's off limits to be made fun of or teased or anything like that."
Nearly all of the position players are already in camp, even though they aren't due until Friday and don't have the first full-squad workout until Saturday. And it's not just for the fellowship in the clubhouse.
For years, Rockies players have reported to camp long before official practice sessions began. Many of the pitchers were in before their report date of last Friday, and much of the rest of the team was in Tucson as well.
Star players such as Holliday, who finished second in National League Most Valuable Player voting after hitting .340 with 35 home runs and 130 RBIs, and longtime club leader Todd Helton are habitually early, and others get the message.
"When Todd's here and all of our main players are here early, there's some accountability for the rest of us to be here," Holliday said. "Plus everybody wants to get out of a cold climate if they live in a cold climate, and work out and get ready for the first real day."
On the Rox: Manager Clint Hurdle wants to reduce the six-man competition for the second base job, but he's not going to make any decisions before games begin next Wednesday. "I think we will give it a little time and let the guys play it out [in a game situation]," Hurdle said. "I don't think it would make much sense to pare it down before some guys have actually played second base." ... Rockies broadcaster Jack Corrigan is completing his second novel and hopes to have it in the hands of an editor by the end of March. Corrigan, author of "Warning Track" (Peakview Press, 2005), is working on a historical novel set during the Battle of the Bulge during World War II. The current title is "12/24/44." After editing, Corrigan will shop the book to publishers. ... An area of emphasis will be baserunning. Other than leadoff man Willy Taveras the lineup does not possess blazing speed, but the emphasis goes deeper than steals. It's proper leads and jumps, and moving the extra base on hits. "[If there is a man on] first base, if there is a hit, you are going to third base," Hurdle said. "That could provide us, from a running standpoint, the ability to be a very aggressive ballclub."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.