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Gray faces Padres in Rockies’ home opener

Rockies

It’s the last day of July and even though there won’t be fans in the stands or packing the streets of LoDo like most years, today still is the Rockies home opener. As such The Denver Post looked back at five of the team’s most notable home openers in its history. No. 5 on the list was Mike Hampton’s debut in 2001 after signing a record eight-year, $121 million contract in the offseason.

As for today’s opener (6:10 p.m., AT&T SportsNet, 850 AM), Jon Gray takes the mound against the San Diego Padres, a team he’s fared extremely well against in his career. Despite Gray’s overall record of success with Colorado it also will be the first time in his career starting the home opener.

“I’m ready for that real competition there, and I feel like I always have an edge (at Coors Field), so I’m excited. (At home I pitch) knowing that I’m going to out-do the other guy and knowing that our lineup is going to hit the ball. It’s a good combination and it makes you feel confident.”

Jon Gray told The Denver Post

As for the rest of the three-game series, lefty Kyle Freeland is scheduled to start Saturday (6:10 p.m.) and righty Antonio Senzatela will take the mound Sunday (1:10 p.m.)

Nuggets

The NBA season started back up last night as the Jazz beat the Pelicans (106-104) and the Lakers topped the Clippers (103-101) in two tight games. The Nuggets still have another day to wait as they reopen play Saturday morning (11 a.m.) against Miami.

In the meantime coach Michael Malone told TheAthletic.com that where they Nuggets ended up seeded is not his biggest concern.

“Right now, to be honest, I am not concerned about our seeding. Having clinched a playoff spot, my No. 1 concern is health. That continues to be a huge concern for me, a huge point of emphasis. So, can we find a way to get healthy come August 17? With that being said, we have to find ways to start improving.”

Head coach Michael Malone

On the forefront of those concerns is the status of Denver’s Will Barton who has been dealing with right knee soreness while in the bubble.

Avalanche

It’s the Rockies home opener today, the Nuggets first game back tomorrow and then Sunday is about the Avs as they kick off their NHL restart against the St. Louis Blues (4:30 p.m., Altitude) in the round-robin portion to determine the Western Conferences top 4 seeds.

TheDNVR’s AJ Haefele wrote about the glue guys on the Avs, who Colorado will need in order to go deep into the playoffs this season.

Broncos

Fullback/tight end Andrew Beck became the first Broncos player to be placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday. NFL rules prohibit the team from revealing whether he tested positive for coronavirus or needs to be quarantined because he was around a person who tested positive.

  • In an ESPN.com article Rivers McCown ranked the Top 25 young NFL players poised for a breakout season. No. 2 on the list is Denver defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones. Arguably Jones’ best game last season came in Week 16 against the Lions when he recorded 2.5 sacks, two tackles for a loss and was named the AFC Defensive Player of the week.

CU Buffs

The CU football team keeps adding to its 2021 recruiting class. The latest addition is Kaylin Moore, a three-star athlete out of Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian High School. Moore is Colorado’s 11th commit for 2021 and the sixth since July 13.

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Nuggets, Rockies, Rapids all in action today

Nuggets

The Nuggets are back in action today for the first time since mid-March, albeit just a scrimmage vs. the Washington Wizards (1:30 p.m., Altitude).

Denver is only expected to have nine players available to play as both Gary Harris and Torrey Craig cleared quarantine on Tuesday, but will not be available.

  • According to The Denver Post fourteen of the Nuggets players will wear messages on their jerseys supporting racial equality. Guard Troy Daniels added the team also is considering other ways of protesting, but said nothing has been decided as of now.

Avalanche

Nathan MacKinnon was named a finalist for yet another award on Tuesday, this time the Hart Trophy, the NHL’s MVP. Last week the MacKinnon also was named a finalist for the Lady Byng and Ted Lindsay trophies.

The Lady Byng is given to the player who displays the best sportsmanship, along with high standards of play. MacKinnon definitely makes sense for that since his 12 penalty minutes this season are the fewest among the NHL’s top 25 scorers.

And the Ted Lindsay trophy is for the league’s “most outstanding player.”

My thoughts: I’m guessing the Lady Byng is the only regular-season hardware MacKinnon brings home this year, but he’ll be perfectly fine with that if he adds a Stanley Cup instead.

Rockies

It was just an exhibition game, but still, it was great to see the Rockies back in action on Tuesday night. Colorado beat the Rangers 5-1 as Texas opened new Globe Life Field.

Colorado got home runs from Daniel Murphy, Nolan Arenado and David Dahl in the win. The team’s square off against tonight (6 p.m.), before Opening Day on Friday.

Broncos

Today in their on-going series, The Denver Post tackled the Broncos’ running backs.

My thoughts: I still don’t understand the need to sign Melvin Gordon this offseason. I think he’s clearly an upgrade over Royce Freeman, but I’m not sure he’s an upgrade over Phillip Lindsay. And the $16 million over two years just feels like a major overpay.

I would have rather seen Denver sign a less expensive free agent (Devonta Freeman perhaps) and use the extra money for some help on the offensive line or at cornerback.

And one thing the Post article does not mention is Gordon’s problems with fumbling during his career. It doesn’t matter how well he runs this ball, if he can’t hang onto it he’ll be a liability.

  • ESPN.com published its list of the most improved teams this offseason from 1-to-32. Denver checked in at No. 6, right behind Cleveland and just in front of Arizona.
    They ranked Miami the most improved and the L.A. Rams as the least improved.

Rapids

Colorado is back in action tonight against Minnesota United (8:30 p.m., ESPN, Altitude 92.5 FM) for what likely is their final game of the MLS is Back Tournament.

The Rapids dropped the first two games of the group stage against Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City. Minnesota already has clinched a spot in the knockout round.

The Denver Post wrote about whether or not the Rapids have a discipline problem. And judging by the numbers, the do. Colorado led the MLS in red cards last year and in 2018 had 11 more yellow cards than the next closest team.

CSU Rams

The Mountain West Conference released its conference’s coaches poll on Tuesday and Colorado State was picked to finish fifth out of six teams in the Mountain Division. Not surprisingly, Boise State is picked to finish first, followed by Wyoming and Air Force.

New Mexico was the one team ranked below the Rams.

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Rockies, Nuggets and Avs all gearing up for seasons

Rockies

It’s hard to believe that Opening Day is this week … assuming all goes according to plan. The Rockies are scheduled to play two exhibition games Tuesday and Wednesday in Texas against the Rangers, with the opener set for Friday.

Colorado wrapped up it’s 15-day summer camp on Sunday and manager Bud Black was most excited about how good the offense has looked.

My thoughts: I’m definitely excited for the season to be here at last, but my expectations for the Rockies still haven’t changed that much from when Spring Training began months ago. I expect them to hover somewhere around .500, probably finishing a few games under.

In this shortened season though their playoff chances definitely have increased though. All it takes is a hot stretch for a couple of weeks and they’ll be right in it.

Nuggets

The start of the NBA restart is coming up fast as well. Denver has its first scrimmage this Wednesday against the Washington Wizards and while they likely won’t play Gary Harris and Torrey Craig were reportedly en route to Orlando as of Sunday afternoon.

Harris was the final member of the Nuggets regular starting rotation that had yet to enter the NBA bubble. No word yet on the whereabouts of rookie Michael Porter Jr. though.

Avalanche

As the Avs also near their return to action count Ian Cole among those players who believe Colorado has a legitimate shoot to lift the Stanley Cup in a couple months.

Cole, a 10-year veteran, begins growing his playoff beard at the start of the hockey season, in October, if he thinks he’s on a playoff team. And since the playoffs are usually over by now this is already the longest he’s ever had it.

Here’s hoping he still is growing it in late August.

Broncos

The Denver Post began its series previewing the Broncos position groups. First up, the quarterbacks.

My thoughts: I’m cautiously optimistic that Drew Lock will be the long-term answer at quarterback for Denver. I don’t think that means he’s going to be be like Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes and win the MVP award in his second year in the league however.

I do love the fact that John Elway and company have surrounded him with talent though. I also am hopeful that even if he struggles some this year, which is highly likely, that he still gets another year or two to learn and grow into the position.

Nationally

ESPN previews the upcoming MLB season with a look at the stars and storylines they’re most excited to see. Not surprisingly no Rockies players made the list.