Notes: Rockies returning to health
Taveras feeling good; Rivera makes first Double-A start
DENVER -- The top of the Rockies order was back in action Saturday night after five games without leadoff man Willy Taveras.Taveras had been suffering from groin soreness since last Sunday's game in Cincinnati, and he jump-started the Rockies' attack with a 1-for-3 night, earning a walk, a double and a run scored off Barry Zito and playing the full nine innings. "I feel very good after yesterday," Taveras said Sunday. "My legs feel better today, I feel fine. I wouldn't assess myself at 100 percent, but I stayed within myself the whole game and I didn't have to push anything. I think I've got pretty good speed overall. I hope I don't need to rush, but if I have to, I'm going to try to rush." Taveras could also prove to be the spark igniting a handful of injured players with the potential to return to the team over the next 10 days. Relievers Ramon Ramirez (sprained right elbow) and LaTroy Hawkins (right elbow inflammation) are both scheduled to pitch at Triple-A Colorado Springs on Sunday, with Ramirez potentially rejoining the club for the midweek series with the Diamondbacks and Hawkins possibly returning for the weekend series with the Royals, barring setbacks in either case. Byung-Hyung Kim is not far behind, having made his fifth appearance for Colorado Springs on Saturday night in what is projected to be a six-start rehab assignment. Kim pitched six innings and allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits and two walks while striking out seven, earning no decision in a game the Sky Sox went on to win to extend their streak to six. He threw 95 pitches, 65 of which were strikes, and he was comfortable throwing his slider, the one pitch that had been problematic with his thumb injury. "He gave up a scratch run early and a wind-blown Texas bloop for a two-run homer to a left-hander," manager Clint Hurdle reported Sunday. "His sequences are good and clean, he's keeping the ball away. They would like to see him pitch in more. He's not. There's some progress there. He's healthy." Additionally, second baseman Kazuo Matsui (lower back spasms) is en route to Tucson, Ariz., for extended Spring Training, where he will begin drill work and play three innings in a game Monday. "It'll be touch-and-feel as we move forward," Hurdle said. "We want to push him as long as there's no residual setbacks, pain or soreness. We'll get him a few innings on the field and maybe one or two at-bats." Hurdle thought Matsui had a chance at rejoining the Rockies within 10 days if all goes well as he builds up playing time in Tucson. He and Taveras had shown the ability to be a dangerous one-two punch at the top of the order, with Matsui hitting .361 before going on the disabled list April 15 and both bringing their considerable speed into play whenever they're on the basepaths. Rodrigo Lopez, 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA in three starts before hitting the DL with a right elbow strain April 19, will pitch a second round of live batting practice to the Rockies midweek and will eventually embark on a rehab assignment as he builds arm strength back up before returning to the rotation.
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Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.