Royals-Rockies Preview

The Colorado Rockies are in the middle of the pack in the NL

West, and manager Jim Tracy is making it clear the club will not

hesitate to shake things up.

Veteran second baseman Mark Ellis is expected to make his

Rockies debut Friday night when they welcome the AL-worst Kansas

City Royals to Coors Field for the first time since 2007.

Ellis was acquired Thursday from Oakland for a minor league

pitcher, and he will be expected to provide stability at second.

Colorado (39-42) has also used Jose Lopez, Chris Nelson, Jonathan

Herrera and Eric Young Jr. at the position.

“I think the message with this acquisition of a veteran, proven

major league player is there’s no scholarship program here. This is

not a feel-good situation,” said Tracy following a 6-4 defeat to

the Chicago White Sox, the Rockies’ fifth in six games that kept

them 6 1/2 games behind West-leading San Francisco.

However, the 34-year-old Ellis also has a long history of

injuries, having played fewer than 124 games in six of his first

eight seasons. A .265 hitter, Ellis is batting a career-low .217

with one homer and 16 RBIs in 62 contests.

A pair of rookies will oppose each other in the opener as Juan

Nicasio takes the ball for the Rockies against Kansas City’s Danny

Duffy.

Both wins by Nicasio (2-1, 5.08 ERA) have come in Denver, where

he has a 3.00 ERA in three starts.

The right-hander hasn’t recorded a decision in his last two

games, but he’s been tagged for 10 runs and 11 hits through 9 2-3

innings of road matchups with Cleveland and the New York

Yankees.

“In the first two innings he was consistently 95, 96 (mph). Then

starting in the third, fourth, fifth inning, the velocity started

dropping down to 92, 93,” the Yankees’ Nick Swisher said of Nicasio

after the Rockies’ 6-4 loss Sunday.

Though he’s pitched well in interleague play, Duffy (1-2, 4.61)

has yet to win. The left-hander has no record and a 3.38 ERA in two

such matchups.

He surrendered two runs on back-to-back homers over seven

innings Saturday in Kansas City’s 3-2 home win over the Chicago

Cubs.

The Royals are 1-3 in Duffy’s four road starts.

Kansas City (33-48) fell to 0-6 all-time at Petco Park following

Wednesday’s 4-1 loss to the Padres that capped a three-game sweep.

The Royals have lost five straight on the road and nine of 11

overall.

“It’s a very weird funk we’re in,” manager Ned Yost said. “We

play actually pretty decent baseball most of the time. But we’re

not winning baseball games.”

Second baseman Chris Getz has been an unlikely source of offense

for Kansas City. He’s batting .412 in interleague play and has hit

safely in all six road games against NL foes. Getz is hitting only

.231 against the AL.

The Rockies have won five of nine games from the Royals at Coors

Field.