DENVER -- Catcher Ramon Hernandez rejoined the Rockies' starting lineup on Friday against the Phillies after missing 42 games with a left hand strain.To open a spot for Hernandez, the Opening Day catcher, the Rockies placed catcher Wil Nieves on the 15-day disabled list with turf toe in his right foot. Hernandez hit .215 with four home runs and 15 RBIs before going onto the DL. In his absence, rookie Wilin Rosario became the starter and is hitting .247 but leading Major League rookies with 14 home runs. Rosario became a father Thursday. Manager Jim Tracy said both catchers would receive playing time but he didn't want to push Hernandez, 36, too hard initially. Hernandez also is a veteran who could be of interest to contending clubs between now and the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Rutledge forced to borrow gear for MLB debut
DENVER -- Rockies players were dressed and filing onto the field for batting practice Friday, but their starting shortstop for the game against the Phillies -- the newly promoted Josh Rutledge -- was scrambling in street clothes.The folks at Double-A Tulsa told Rutledge on Thursday that he was being promoted to the Majors. He made it, but his equipment didn't. When he did get dressed and join his teammates, he was wearing Carlos Gonzalez's shoes. Troy Tulowitzki lent him one of his older gloves, several of the bats he's not using while he recovers from left groin surgery, and his white batting gloves with purple decorations. "Going from last night, not even knowing if I was going to be activated then getting to the ballpark today and seeing that I'm starting, it's unreal, really hard to describe," Rutledge said shortly after the club made up a No. 14 jersey for him. "My parents were in Tulsa last night and they got to share it with me. They're coming to the game." Rutledge, 23, a third-round pick in 2010 out of the University of Alabama, has been one of the most productive middle infielders in the Rockies' chain. Last year, Rutledge led the Class A California League and had the seventh-highest batting average in the Minor Leagues at .348 at Modesto. This season at Tulsa, he has hit .306 with 13 home runs, 27 doubles, three triples and 27 RBIs in 87 games. "I could only hope, but I honestly didn't know it would come this soon," Rutledge said. "I couldn't be more excited." The roster spot opened when Todd Helton was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sore right hip. Plus, Tulowitzki's injury was a factor. Originally, the Rockies moved veteran second baseman Marco Scutaro to short, but the position was grinding on the 36-year-old. Jonathan Herrera played short before the break, but durability is a concern in his case as well. The plan is for Rutledge to play regularly at shortstop, even though when Tulowitzki returns Rutledge likely will have to move to second base. Rutledge is practically sight unseen for manager Jim Tracy. Rutledge was in Minor League camp this year, so only on rare occasions when Tracy went to the back fields at the team's complex did he get an extended look at Rutledge. "I'm sure there are going to be some rough edges, and that's OK, because there were rough edges with Carlos Gonzalez," Tracy said. "There were rough edges with Dexter Fowler, who's doing pretty well right now. There were rough edges along the way with Tyler Colvin and he's doing pretty good right now. There are still some rough edges with Wilin Rosario, although he's making the right statement for himself. "We have to maintain the same thought process with this young kid that's going to go out there and play shortstop." Adding Rutledge and right-handed pitcher Mike Ekstrom, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Colorado Springs, meant the Rockies had to clear a spot on their 40-man Major League roster. They did so by transferring left-handed pitcher Jorge De La Rosa (recovering from elbow surgery) from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL. Players on the 60-day list do not count against the 40 players eligible for Major League service.
Helton lands on DL with hip soreness
DENVER -- Still battling right hip soreness, Rockies veteran first baseman Todd Helton landed on the 15-day disabled list on Friday.Helton played sparingly in the days before the All-Star break, although he did go 0-for-3 with a walk on Sunday at Washington in the final day before the midsummer recess. The hope was he would improve during the break, but that did not happen. Manager Jim Tracy said Helton (.235, seven home runs, 34 RBIs) will undergo further testing, which likely means an MRI. "Because he was experiencing some soreness, we did shut him down for several days prior to trying it on Sunday; it wasn't very good," Tracy said. "Beyond Sunday, there were going to be four more days where he could just rest. But he came in today and he's still sore. Now there needs to be some intervening involved to where we do anything and everything that we have to do to try to get to the very bottom of it." Helton's hip issues, which have surpassed longtime back problems on his list of ailments, have made it easier to play the sizzling Tyler Colvin (.305, 13 homers, 40 RBIs), either at first base or in the outfield. For Friday's opener of three games with the Phillies, Colvin started in right field and Michael Cuddyer, the regular right fielder, moved to first base. The Rockies called up infielder Josh Rutledge from Double-A Tulsa and started him at shortstop. Rutledge hit .306 with 27 doubles, three triples, 13 home runs and 35 RBIs in 87 games for the Drillers. Rutledge's presence allows the Rockies to use veteran Marco Scutaro at second base rather than shortstop.
Chacin feels good after tossing bullpen session
DENVER -- Rockies right-hander Jhoulys Chacin's two-inning bullpen session on Thursday went well enough that he will face hitters at Coors Field on Tuesday afternoon.If all goes well then, Chacin, who hasn't pitched since May 1 because of a nerve issue in the right side of his chest, hopes to begin a Minor League injury rehab assignment. Chacin, 24, was expected to move into a leadership role on the staff, but pitching through injury he was 0-3 with a 7.30 ERA in five starts before being deactivated. "Everything feels good, like it used to before; this is the best I felt since last year," Chacin said. Chacin was being mentioned as an All-Star Game candidate during the early part of last season, when he was 8-4 with a 2.71 ERA in his first 15 starts. But he battled forearm tightness and struggled for the rest of the season. He finished 11-14 with a 3.62 ERA. The Rockies were hoping he would regain health and consistency this year, but he struggled with problems from the start of Spring Training, and it took until mid-May to determine the exact nature of the injury.
Veteran righty Ekstrom called up from Triple-A
DENVER -- Veteran right-hander Mike Ekstrom, who has pitched for the Padres (2008-09) and the Rays (2010-11), joined the Rockies after his contract was purchased from Triple-A Colorado Springs.Righty Tyler Chatwood (1-1, 7.62 ERA), who struggled with throwing strikes in a long relief role, was sent down to Double-A Tulsa, which had a rotation spot open. Ekstrom, 28, was 2-1 with a 2.64 ERA, 51 strikeouts and 15 walks in 47 2/3 innings with Colorado Springs. In 36 Major League games, Ekstrom is 0-3 with a 5.36 ERA, 36 strikeouts and 24 walks. Purchasing the contracts of Ekstrom and infielder Josh Rutledge, who had been at Double-A Tulsa, meant the Rockies had to clear a spot on the 40-man Major League roster. They did so by moving left-handed pitcher Jorge De La Rosa (recovering from left elbow surgery) from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL. Players on the 60-day list do not count against the 40 players eligible for Major League service.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.