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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - The Rockies know what it takes to be a contender.

No, not because they are one, not just yet anyways, but because they have to face teams that are a factor in the playoffs.

The World Champion San Francisco Giants are the favorite, and most experienced club. The Dodgers that made several moves in the offseason to become a more viable contender. The San Diego Padres had a .560 winning percentage (the best team in baseball, the Washington Nationals, only had a .605 winning percentage) following the All-Star break. And finally, the Diamondbacks have nearly the same team that won the division in 2011.

The National League West is competitive as ever, and their common competitors will certainly give the Rockies something to emulate.

"They are what we are striving to be in a lot of ways," said assistant general manager Bill Geivett. "We think that our division is a really difficult division. It's a great division with great teams, and very good pitching. It's one that we have to get back in the mix."

Colorado was 28-44, a .389 winning percentage, against their division opponents last season.

Winning, as a whole, was hard to come by a year ago due to a multitude of factors. Injuries, most notable to Geivett, forced the Rockies into a position where they had to bring up players before they were legitimately ready for the big league stage. But these prospects have now tested the waters and are ready to come in and contribute.

"The biggest thing that we see in camp right now is the younger players and how they've come into spring training. They got exposed in a lot of areas," Geivett said of the likes of Wilin Rosario, Josh Rutledge and many others. "[We were] in a position where the younger guys had to come in and some of them were ready, but most of them were not."

Geivett pointed out that many people actually picked the Rockies to win the division a year ago before the season went awry. Now, without the expectations in addition to a healthy and fervent ballclub, Colorado should able to perform up to their capabilities.

"I think we have to earn our respect. I don't think that we have that right now," Geivett said. "Nobody should be acting like we're in Scottsdale talking about winning a Championship like that's just going to be handed to us. I think our guys are hungry to earn that back."

Being competitive in the NL West is an area of emphasis, and more so a realistic goal. They'll get their chance to prove it, more than 70 times this season.