Rockies spring training report: Ezequiel Tovar strutting his stuff, despite quiet bat

Compared to last year, 21-year-old shortstop Ezequiel Tovar is having a quiet spring training, but that doesn’t mean manager Bud Black has been unimpressed.

“We saw some good things from him last year and the thing that stood out for us was his self-assurance and self-confidence,” Black told reporters in Scottsdale, Ariz. “He’s comfortable in his own skin as a young player and he’s not trying to do too much.

“He’s playing the game with a level of poise that is beyond his years. The talent is there. On a skill level, I think he’s going to be able to make every play at shortstop. He can go in the hole, he can make the play up the middle, he can charge the ball and he’s got a strong arm. His instincts are fine. In the field, I think he will only get better as time goes on.”

Tovar, who will be a starter this season, entered Tuesday night’s Cactus League game against the Cubs hitting .250 (6-for-24) with one home run, one double, five strikeouts and three walks.

Last year, Tovar was the star of camp, hitting .550 with three homers and two doubles in 10 spring training games. He won the Abby Greer Award, given to the spring training MVP.

“On the offensive side, there is bat speed there and some pop in the bat for a 21-year-old, and that’s only going to get better as well,” Black said.

Tovar made his major debut on Sept. 23 of last season and played in nine games, hitting .212 (7-for-33) with one homer, one double, two RBIs, nine strikeouts and two walks.

Position battles: Veteran third baseman Mike Moustakas, signed to a minor-league deal on March 5 as insurance after the Rockies lost second baseman Brendan Rodgers to a shoulder injury, is making the most of his tryout.

In Colorado’s 8-7 loss to Oakland on Monday, Moustakas was 2-for-3 with a three-run double that left his bat with a 106 mph exit velocity, and also rapped out a single. In his short spring stint, he’s hitting .556 (5-for-9).

With Ryan McMahon moving to second base to supplant Rodgers, Moustakas is pushing to be the starter at third and putting pressure on corner infielder Elehuris Montero and first baseman/outfielder Michael Toglia to show their best stuff in the final two weeks of camp.

Injury updates: Right fielded Kris Bryant was a late scratch from Monday’s game with lower-back stiffness and was not scheduled to play Tuesday night. Black told that Bryant should return on Wednesday and described Bryant’s discomfort as “nothing significant.”

Also, top infield prospect Adael Amador left Monday’s game in the seventh inning with a tweaked hamstring. Black said he should be back in on the field in about a week.

Up next: Rockies at Dodgers, 6:05 p.m. Wednesday (7:05 p.m. MDT).

Probable Rockies pitchers: LHP Austin Gomber, RHP Connor Seabold, RHP Phillips Valdéz, RHP Matt Koch, LHP Fernando Abad, LHP Josh Rogers.

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