Rockies sign Podsednik, Zambrano
Pair signed to Minor League deals; club finalizes list of invitees
DENVER -- Seeking depth and speed, the Rockies have signed outfielder Scott Podsednik -- leadoff man for the 2005 World Series champion White Sox -- and also inked veteran right-hander Victor Zambrano. Both have Minor League contracts with invitations to Major League camp.
In addition, the club released its full list of 22 non-roster invitees. It includes three recent top Draft picks: shortstop Chris Nelson (2004), right-handed pitcher Greg Reynolds (2006) and right-handed reliever Casey Weathers (2007). Of the 61 players who will be in camp, 41 were developed by the Rockies organization.
Podsednik, 31, had 40 or more steals each season from 2003 to 2006. But adductor and rib cage muscle injuries limited him to 62 games for the White Sox last season. He finished with a .243 batting average and .299 on-base percentage, and was 13-for-18 on steal attempts.
The spot Podsednik seeks would be a backup who can play center and hit leadoff on days Willy Taveras rests. But Podsednik is competing with Ryan Spilborghs, who performed solidly in 97 games (.299, 11 home runs, 51 RBIs) and Cory Sullivan, the 2006 starter in center who had his moments (.286, two homers, 14 RBIs) in 76 games. Spilborghs and Sullivan also are considered strong defensive outfielders.
Podsednik will make $700,000 if he makes the club and $13,000 a month in Triple-A.
"We were near the end of putting our roster together, and the Major League staff wanted to take a look at a guy that can run a little bit," Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd said. "We didn't guarantee anything."
Zambrano, 32, has made 187 career appearances (100 starts) in his career. In 2007, two seasons removed from Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery, he went 0-3 with a 10.17 ERA in 13 games, including four starts, with the Blue Jays and Orioles. He also pitched in the Minors with the Blue Jays and the Pirates.
It will be the second Major League camp for Reynolds, who attended last season, and the first for Weathers and Nelson.
Nelson, 21, battled injury early in his career, but last season played in 133 games with Class A Modesto and hit .289 with 19 home runs and 99 RBIs, all career highs. Although the Rockies have Troy Tulowitzki (the top 2005 pick), who had a strong rookie year in 2007 and signed a six-year contract, Rockies assistant general manager Bill Geivett said Nelson will continue to develop as a shortstop.
"Shortstop is his best position, and we want to see him develop there some more," Geivett said. "Last year, he took some steps forward offensively and defensively and we'd like to see that continue.
"He's a good enough athlete to where if he got closer to the Majors and we wanted to move him, he could make the move. Our philosophy is to develop Major League players first, then worry about their position. I think you can run into trouble moving guys too early in their careers, because you never know what can happen."
Also invited are right-hander Brandon Hynick, the Class A California League 2007 pitcher of the year, and outfielder Dexter Fowler, chose to the all-prospect team after his performance in the Arizona Fall League.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.