Estes has edge on opening-day start

Updated: March 23, 2004, 3:03 PM ET

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Manager Clint Hurdle hasn't made it official, but it appears Shawn Estes will be the Colorado Rockies' opening-day starter on April 6.

Estes pitched five scoreless innings Monday, allowing just three hits. He combined with three other Colorado pitchers on a five-hitter in a 1-0 win over San Diego.

In 15 innings this spring, Estes has allowed just one earned run.

"He has put some distance between himself and the rest of the guys vying for positions in the rotation," Hurdle said.

But Hurdle refused to proclaim Estes as the No. 1 starter. "I just don't care to make any announcements," he said. "I am just in no hurry."

It was the second straight start that Estes has worked five shutout innings, and it left him with a 3-1 record and 0.60 earned-run average.

"He's pitched with confidence all spring," Hurdle said. "He took another step in the right direction."

Estes, who made a start on opening day for San Francisco in 1998, credits his strong spring to his mental approach. Signed to a minor-league deal, the lack of security sharpened his edge.

"I just wanted to make the team," Estes said.

Estes, 8-11 with a 5.73 ERA with the Chicago Cubs last season, talked with a number of teams this offseason, many of which thought he was hurt last year. He was determined to prove he was healthy.

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^MR. VERSATILE:@ Kit Pellow's versatility is making him a valuable commodity.

Pellow started in right field Monday and moved to first base in the sixth. He drove in the Rockies' only run with a sacrifice fly in the fourth, collected the first of their five singles and is batting .241 (7-for-29).

"Everywhere we've put him with a glove on his hand, he's done well," Hurdle said. That includes left field, third base and catcher. Pellow's ability to play the latter position likely will enable him to make the team.

"He's much more capable than a third catcher," Hurdle said. "He can start a game."

On Sunday, Pellow made two sliding catches in left field.

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^TOUGH DECISION:@ The Rockies may face a tough decision about what to do with Luis Gonzalez.

The Rockies selected Gonzalez from the Cleveland Indians in December's Rule 5 draft for $50,000. If they can't find a spot for Gonzalez on the 25-man roster, they have to offer him back to the Indians for $25,000 unless they can work out a deal with Cleveland.

On Monday, Gonzalez started at third base and moved to shortstop in the sixth inning. Gonzalez, who also has played left and right field this spring, saved a run and possibly the game with a leaping catch of Henri Stanley's line drive with no out in the ninth and runners on first and second.

Gonzalez, 24, also had one of the Rockies' five hits and has gone 10-for-32 (.313).

He played six games at Triple-A Buffalo in 2002 but spent last season at Double-A Akron, where he hit .316 with seven home runs, 62 RBIss and a .385 on-base percentage.

"This kid, we like a lot," Hurdle said. "It's a tough situation. The Indians might even like him more now with the exposure he's gotten in this position and the way he's handled himself."

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^BOLSTERING HIS BID:@ Right-hander Turk Wendell pitched two scoreless innings Monday to run his scoreless innings streak to five.

Wendell, who took a minor-league deal with the Rockies because he wanted to be close to his home in Castle Rock, said, "Maybe I'm one day closer to making the team. There's only so many days left."

Wendell appears to have won a bullpen job.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index