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Spring awakening: Fans flock as Rockies start Cactus games

Troy E. Renck
The Denver Post
Colorado Rockies players are warming up for Spring Training at Hi Crobett Field in Tucson, AZ on Wednesday. Hyoung Chang/ The Denver Post
DP | THE DENVER POST

TUCSON – Outside the stadium, three college-aged kids played a spirited game of Whiffle-Ball. Motor homes moved slowly over the gravel parking lot. The air smells of hot dogs and funnel cakes, and the only thing more plentiful than the beer is sun screen.

There isn’t a cloud in the sky. It’s 67 degrees.

It, after four months of snow, is time for baseball. With the highest expectations in the 18-year-history of the franchise, the Rockies opened the Cactus League schedule today against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Hi Corbett Field.

“I am ready for the games to get going. It’s time,” said Rockies manager Jim Tracy, whose team won 92 games last season, including a 74-42 record under him. “I am excited.”

Baseball fans waited in the line Thursday for the Rockies spring-opening game against the Diamondbacks. (Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post)

From the looks of it, the fans are too. There were more Colorado license plates around town than normal. And purple blotches were visible above the Rockies’ dugout. A few of the faithful threw caps for manager Jim Tracy to sign.

Nobody will remember this game. The best team in Arizona doesn’t receive a Cactus or even buffet tickets at the local casino. This is about a rebirth, about optimism. Everybody thinks they have a chance on the first day of spring training.

The Rockies’ lineup, typical of this time of area, features a blend of prospects and regulars. Troy Tulowitzki and Clint Barmes won’t make their debut until tomorrow in Tempe vs. the Angels. And Todd Helton and Jason Giambi aren’t scheduled to play until late next week. But there are names you will recognize, like Carlos Gonzalez (the last time you saw him he was devouring Phillies’ pitching), Seth Smith (the game’s best pinch-hitter last season), Ryan Spilborghs, Ian Stewart and Eric Young Jr. (yes, you’re getting old when the sons of former Rockies are in the lineup).

Read more: http://www.denverpost.com/ci_14513057#ixzz0hFDxxyV2


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