TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -Jets from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base screamed overhead and the smells and sounds of the Reid Park Zoo drifted over to the spring training complex Saturday as the Colorado Rockies took the field together for the first time since losing the World Series.
``There's good days at the ballpark and there's great days, and this is always a great day,'' manager Clint Hurdle said after a three-hour workout that began with last year's top draft pick, reliever Casey Weathers, donning a fake beard and cowboy hat to sing Charlie Daniels' ``Drinkin' My Baby Goodbye.''
Hundreds of fans milled around, in stark contrast to a year ago when the Rockies opened camp in relative anonymity.
The Rockin' Rockies are back, and they're determined to prove that last year's 21-1 run-up to the World Series was but an appetizer for this young, talented team loaded with promise and a newfound moxie.
``I think everybody wants to prove that last year wasn't a fluke and that we're a good baseball team,'' said pinch-hitter extraordinaire Seth Smith. ``I don't know who we have to prove that to. You get to the World Series, you're a good baseball team.''
You win the World Series and you're a great team. So, tempering the buzz about the Rockies' rise is a sense of unfinished business.
``They still have a lot to prove, I think,'' owner Charlie Monfort told The Associated Press. ``Let's face it, we didn't finish the job.''
The Rockies, swept by Boston in the World Series, were the last team in Arizona to hold a full-squad workout, although the position players have been hitting and lifting here for a week, led by Todd Helton, who was already settled in by the time pitchers and catchers arrived at Hi Corbett Field.
``We work out with each other all offseason in Denver, so it's not like it's a reunion,'' outfielder Ryan Spilborghs said. ``We were in the weight room a week after the World Series. Now, we're out there, this is great, beautiful weather. There's a lot of pep in the step.''
There's a certain swagger about the Rockies this spring.
``Now that we've made it to the World Series, I think there's a confidence that we can do it and we're going to do it and I think that's a little bit different,'' slugger Matt Holliday said. ``But I don't think that anybody's getting too caught up in any expectations.''
Nor do they give a hoot about all the preseason prognostications that foresee the Rockies coming back down to earth in 2008.
``The court of public opinion was wrong about a lot of things last season, too,'' Hurdle noted.
And he likes the way his team has put last year's success in perspective.
``There's some growth in everybody in there, there's some experience, there's some tangible evidence of us being a good club that we're carrying with us,'' Hurdle said.
Hurdle spent much of his time Saturday watching the second basemen who are vying to replace Kaz Matsui, now in Houston, and backup Jamey Carroll, who was traded to Cleveland.
Former top pick Jayson Nix will get first crack at the job, but he'll have to show some pop at the plate to go with his outstanding glove to beat out former All-Star Marcus Giles, former shortstop Clint Barmes and power prospects Ian Stewart and Jeff Baker, both of whom had to lose weight to turn two at second.
``Today, I went over to second base to watch them for a few minutes and I stayed over there the entire time watching all the second basemen work,'' Hurdle said. ``Watching all five of them at the time go through their reps, the backhands, the glove-ball side, the back-flips, the feeds to second.''
Barmes took grounders at third base and Stewart and Baker will follow suit as they try to fill Carroll's utility role.
Monfort, who said his payroll will rise from $52 million to $72 million this season, said he foresees the Rockies having many more springs like this one, where there's fierce competition for precious few jobs, and Hurdle agrees that the foundation is in place at long last for a long run of success.
``Championships, ever since the game has been played, have been built in pitching and defense. And we were able to make big steps forward in both of those areas last year,'' Hurdle said. ``And then you add a versatile offense with some big-swing guys, the waves of youthful talent that's coming upon us, we definitely have set our sights on being good for a long time.''

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