SCOTTSDALE, ariz. — For a team that has never won its division, the Rockies welcome an extra wild-card berth with everything but purple balloons and black streamers.
Major League Baseball is expected to officially add an additional fifth playoff team in each league this October, increasing the odds for a franchise that has reached the postseason just three times in its 19 seasons.
"This is a good number. If it goes beyond five teams, that's way too many," Rockies right fielder Michael Cuddyer said. "This caters to the fan, and that's what we are all about."
Under the proposed new format, the two wild-card teams in each league would meet in a one-game playoff to advance to the the division series. Some of the sport's best games have come from play-in games — Tigers vs. Twins in 2009, Padres vs. Rockies in 2007 — creating must-see TV because of the sense of urgency.
"I love it," shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. "If the Super Bowl was five games, it would be different. When it's winner-take-all, that changes everything."
The additional teams and revised schedule also places more significance on winning a division title. There was some private complaining that wild-card teams, other than starting the series on the road, face no disadvantage.
"If you have to burn your ace in the play-in game, that's huge," veteran Jason Giambi said. "I like the idea that the division winner gets an edge. You have earned that over 162 games."
Game on. Giambi is taking his managerial debut vs. Todd Helton in Friday's 1 p.m. intrasquad scrimmage seriously. He watched video and tracked down stats before deciding on the following lineup: CF Eric Young Jr., DH Brendan Harris, C Jordan Pacheco, 1B Chad Tracy, 3B Brandon Wood, RF Tyler Colvin, 2B DJ LeMahieu, LF Charlie Blackmon, SS Thomas Field and P Jeremy Guthrie.
"I am pulling out all the stops," Giambi said. Helton's lineup was unavailable because he missed Thursday's practice with an illness.
Helton's team includes top prospects Nolan Arenado and Wilin Rosaro. He will start ageless Jamie Moyer. Giambi and Helton will be required to meet the media following the game.