SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A difficult fifth inning Saturday afternoon left Rockies left-hander Drew Pomeranz with the decision in a 5-2 loss to the Mariners and a 5.54 spring ERA. As the Cactus League heads into late March, rough numbers could lead to uncertain times for a guy competing for a rotation spot.
Yet Pomeranz exuded the same confidence he did after his previous start, a smile-inducing performance against the White Sox. There were reasons for him to feel good, even though he gave up four runs -- including a first-pitch Kendrys Morales homer during a three-run fifth.
Displaying a lively fastball, Pomeranz struck out five and worked out of a third-inning jam by inducing a double-play grounder. His curve was not as sharp as it had been -- it was clear Morales was sitting on the fastball -- and the consistency of his delivery remained a work in progress.
Pomeranz said he is not afraid to work on his weaknesses even though he is in a competition for the fifth spot in the rotation. Righties Tyler Chatwood and Chris Volstad are also in the running, and lefty Christian Friedrich has recovered from back problems and will begin pitching in games next week.
"In years past, I've pitched to my strengths and done really well in Spring Training, but what does that matter?" Pomeranz said. "I feel good out there, but I feel the things that I'm not so good at are the things I need to work at. What's going to happen is going to happen with the rotation. But I'm not going to be any good anywhere if I don't work on the things I need to work on now."
The idea that Pomeranz is willing to take on an improvement project at a time when his performance is being judged for a job says something to manager Walt Weiss.
"It sounds to me like he's in a good place mentally," Weiss said. "There's a lot of confidence that comes with that statement.
"It's a big arm. He's trying to do things to become more polished."
Blackmon sharp in return from knee infection
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon celebrated his first game since March 1 -- he was out with an infection in his right knee -- with two hard-hit doubles off Mariners' pitcher Erasmo Ramirez in the Rockies' 5-2 loss Saturday afternoon.
"I was blessed to be back out there, get over the infection, come out and pick up where I left off," said Blackmon, who had six at-bats in a Minor League game on Thursday but didn't play defense. "I got tired a little quicker than normal, but as far as the health of my body and everything, I'm ready to go."
Blackmon is trying to forge a spot on the roster, even though the outfield looks crowded; Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler and Michael Cuddyer are regulars, Eric Young Jr. is earning his way to increased duty and Tyler Colvin is coming off a strong year. Blackmon has Minor League options, meaning he can be sent to Triple-A Colorado Springs without being exposed to waivers. But with two weeks left in camp, anything can happen.
"I'm trying to make the game as simple as I can make it -- see ball, hit ball -- and not get caught up in all the tiny details," Blackmon said.
Manager Walt Weiss said Blackmon has "some interesting life in the bat."
Pacheco having super spring, versatile in field
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Jordan Pacheco is having a super (utility) spring in Rockies camp.
His 2-for-3 performance in Saturday's 5-2 loss to the Mariners, a game he started at first base, lifted his spring batting average to .407. This is coming after a 2012 season in which Pacheco, with regular starts at first and third base, hit .309 to lead National League rookies.
The Rockies have plenty of depth at first base, with veteran Todd Helton the everyday starter as long as he can stay healthy and outfielders Michael Cuddyer and Tyler Colvin also able to play in that position. At third, Chris Nelson is trying to hold off a challenge from Nolan Arenado for the starting job, and it appears that in the end, just one will be with the squad, so Pacheco could see some time there. Pacheco is also the third catcher.
Although it could take effort, there are ways to work Pacheco onto the field. Rockies manager Walt Weiss simply must find them.
"We know what he can do," Weiss said. "He's a nice go-to on the bench. He's going to give you a quality at-bat every time he goes up there. I don't care if it's the other team's closer or who it is. That's a guy we've got to find opportunities for. That's a challenge."
Pacheco has spent most of the spring at catcher and first base, but is spending extra time with third base coach and infield instructor Stu Cole to keep his skills sharp at third.
"You just have to go about your business the way you need to," Pacheco said. "We've got a lot of good players on this team and hopefully I can help out. I don't think, 'Is this going to get me here or there?' It's just what's best for the team."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.