Rockies Start Season With A Taller Wall But No New Superstars

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Photo: Colorado Rockies Nolan Arenado (AP Photo)
Colorado Rockies' Nolan Arenado, follows the flight of his RBI single in front of Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, in Denver.

The Colorado Rockies announced last month that two sections of the outfield wall at Coors Field will be higher this year by between five and nine feet. That may be the most exciting change for the Rockies, since the team did not sign any superstars in the offseason.

Team officials say they raised the fence to help pitchers. Playing at a mile high makes their job difficult, because pitches don't break normally and balls fly further once they're hit. Fans should expect fewer home runs this year as a result, says Bryan Kilpatrick, managing editor of the website Purple Row, which covers the Rockies.

The new fence won't necessarily mean less offense though. The real problem for pitchers is "the cheap fly balls that fall in for hits because the outfield is so big," said Kilpatrick. Outfielders have to play farther apart, and can't catch some balls that would be outs in a smaller park.

But as for the lineup, the team didn't make any moves in the offseason to address shortcomings in the starting pitching rotation. Kilpatrick says the most exciting player on the team is still third baseman Nolan Arenado, whose defense has caught headlines and whose offense is improving.

Instead, the Rockies are focused on rebuilding from within -- not through trades --and they have a young prospect at shortstop, Trevor Story. Fans hope he'll replace Troy Tulowitzski, who was traded last season after becoming the face of the franchise.

Story will start in the team's season opener Monday night on the road against the Arizona Diamondbacks, in part because shortstop Jose Reyes is waiting to receive a suspension from Major League Baseball. Reyes was charged with domestic violence in the offseason, and while prosecutors announced recently they will no longer pursue the case, the league can still punish Reyes. Kilpatrick says a punishment is likely, and it's possible Reyes will not play for the Rockies for a few months.

The Rockies' home opener at Coors Field is Friday against the San Diego Padres.