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Justin Lawrence aims for key bullpen role


Justin Lawrence, the Rockies’ right-handed reliever with the funky sidearm delivery, looks poised to finally fill his potential.

Earlier in camp, Lawrence said he’s never been in a better spot in his pro career. Rockies manager Bud Black agrees and he can foresee Lawrence pitching in key situations this season.

“He figures, in a perfect world, to pitch in the later part of the game, depending upon his performance once we get going,” Black told reporters at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Ariz. on Monday morning. “Potentially, I see him as an integral part of our team, when we are winning, over the long haul.”

Black said that he expects Lawrence to pitch in well over 50 games, adding, “It could be potentially in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. We don’t know how he’s going to perform, but he’s capable of really good things, just based on his talent.”

Last season he was 3-0 with a 6.75 ERA, eight walks and 24 strikeouts in 18 games at home. He was 0-1 with a 4.64 ERA, 14 walks and 24 strikeouts in 20 road games.

Position battles: Now that the Rockies have signed veteran Mike Moustakas to a minor-league deal and are giving him every chance to break camp with the big-league club, the heat is on Elehuris Montero to up his game, both in the field and at the plate, if he wants to make the roster.

“He needs more contact, and to be a little bit more selective,” Black said. “You saw the attack plan against him (last season). A lot of breaking balls. That’s as simple as I can put it. Cut the strikeout rate down, be able to handle the breaking ball, be on time with the fastball when he gets it and square it up.”

Injury updates: Right-handed starter Antonio Senzatela, returning from surgery to repair a torn ACL, was scheduled to throw a full bullpen session from the pitching rubber on Monday. He remains on track to pitch in the majors at some point in May.

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