Top Prospects: Chad Bettis, RHP, Rockies

SAN DIEGO -- The Rockies are seeing results from reliever Chad Bettis, a talented right-hander who could end up playing a big part in the late innings for the club.

Bettis, in the Majors at the start of the year for the first time in his career, gave up runs in three of his first four appearances this season. But in his last three games entering Thursday, he had pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings, with three strikeouts, two hits and one walk. All of the games have been close.

"I was encouraged by Chad's outing [Wednesday] night," manager Walt Weiss said of Bettis' clean eighth with one strikeout that kept the Rockies close in a 4-2 loss to the Padres. "It's a matter of throwing his changeup enough so it gets hitters off his fastball. He's got such a great changeup, a power changeup, and it bottoms out. When a hitter sees that, it puts some doubt in his mind in fastball counts."

Bettis was a starter and a reliever at Texas Tech before the Rockies drafted him in the second round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, and he was a starter throughout his Minor League career and when he broke in with the Rockies last year. Bettis developed a solid breaking ball as well as his fastball-changeup combo, and he has worked that into his relief repertoire.

The curve was a pitch the White Sox Jose Abreu hit for a homer at the end of a long at-bat in a key situation on April 8, but Bettis generally has been able to fit an effective curve into his attack as a put-away pitch. A two-inning scoreless stint against the Giants, after giving up a double to the first hitter he faced, was the beginning of Bettis showing he's a fast learner.

"It's just doing what you're expected to do, trying to give your team the best shot to win," Bettis said. "It's about learning hitters and learning the league. You learn what you've done before, what they might be expecting, and then going from there."

Cuddyer day to day with minor hamstring injury

COL@SD: Cuddyer appears to hurt leg after groundout

SAN DIEGO -- Michael Cuddyer said the lower left hamstring cramp that caused him to leave in the seventh inning of Thursday afternoon's 3-1 victory over the Padres will not force him to the disabled list.

Cuddyer suffered the injury while running out a leadoff groundout, and he immediately went to the clubhouse. After the game, he had ice wrapped around the hamstring near his left knee. He doesn't expect to be in the lineup Friday night when the Rockies begin a six-game homestand with a three-game series vs. the Phillies, but he hopes he isn't down long.

"I think it's more toward the tendon," Cuddyer said. "It's not in the belly of my hamstring and I'm not a chronic hamstring guy. All that stuff is encouraging. The strength is good. I did all the strength tests, which is encouraging. The fact I was able to run off the field under my own power, all that stuff is encouraging."

Cuddyer, hitting .317 with three home runs, four doubles and 10 RBIs, left two of the four games with the Padres because of ailments. He left Monday's game with a right elbow contusion when he bumped against a drain at the base of the wall after banging into the fence while trying to catch a fly ball. He was in the lineup the next game.

Dickerson aims to take advantage of opportunity

COL@SD: Dickerson doubles to left field

SAN DIEGO -- When Corey Dickerson is in the Rockies' batting order, it's in a prominent place. Dickerson has been mostly absent, though, due to the hot start of Charlie Blackmon, as both are left-handed-hitting center fielders. Plus there's the fact the regular corner outfielders are All-Stars Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer.

But Dickerson was in the key third spot -- in place of Gonzalez, who has a .138 career average and 13 strikeouts in 29 at-bats against Padres starter Ian Kennedy -- for Thursday's finale of a four-game series against the Padres.

Just once this season has Dickerson had more than one plate appearance in any game. The club optioned him to Triple-A Colorado Springs on April 7 for at-bats, then recalled him Monday. He entered Thursday hitting .143 (1-for-7) with two walks and two strikeouts. But he hit .344 in Spring Training, and .385 during the stint in Colorado Springs.

As manager Walt Weiss said, Dickerson "could hit on Christmas morning."

"I've always hit, and always hit high in the order," Dickerson said. "My numbers coming up speak for themselves. I don't know why that should change now just because I've had a few days off. I feel confident in my abilities. It's just a normal game to me."

Weiss used Dickerson in the third slot 11 times last season, when he batted .263 with five home runs and 17 RBIs in 69 games. Dickerson hit .246 from the No. 3 spot.

Weiss noted that his manager with the Braves, Bobby Cox, sometimes used a backup in the same lineup slot as the starter. Such a strategy not only keeps everyone else in place, but it gives confidence to the player inserted.

"Corey sees himself as a dynamic offensive player, and I think that confirms it in his mind when he sees himself hitting third in the lineup," Weiss said.

The Rockies' roster structure simply works against Dickerson. The lineup has an abundance of left-handers to face righty pitching. When a lefty is on the mound, those have been the opportunities to use right-handed hitters Drew Stubbs and Brandon Barnes. So Dickerson, 24, has to be patient at a point in his career when he has done his part to deserve playing time.

"I like to look at myself as a spark plug who can pick my teammates up," Dickerson said. "Not playing every day, things might not go right for you, but the one thing you can control is your attitude.

"My career is in a limbo stage right now. I'm happy to be where I am right now, but I know I'll be an everyday player. My time is coming. I feel like I'm ready now, but it's not how it works right now. I just have to be ready."

Scuffling CarGo given breather in finale

COL@SF: CarGo blasts a two-run shot into McCovey Cove

SAN DIEGO -- Thursday afternoon was a good and bad time for Rockies left fielder Carlos Gonzalez to rest.

Gonzalez has a .138 batting average and 13 strikeouts against Padres starter Ian Kennedy. He also entered the day 3-for-24 (.125) through six games on the Rockies' road trip.

It wasn't your typical 3-for-24, at least in San Diego. Gonzalez was robbed on hard-hit balls and outstanding defensive plays on several occasions. Sometimes, he realized, it's good to step away from the frustration.

"For sure, there are going to be a couple of broken-bat hits, and a couple not-hard hits, and you've got to take it that way," said Gonzalez, whose batting average has dropped 106 points to .283 during the trip. "The positive thing is I'm hitting the ball hard, just not finding holes right now. But it's hard, because every time I feel like I hit the ball hard in great situations -- runners on first and second, things like that -- and that's the ballgame.

"What I do is go out and play defense and try to do the same thing to them that they're doing to me. It's tough, but you can't get frustrated. Just continue to swing the bat and good things will happen."

The Rockies don't always sit Gonzalez in unfavorable matchups against right-handed pitching. He went 0-for-4 Saturday against the Giants' Matt Cain to end a 10-game hitting streak, and he's 4-for-44 (.091) in his career against Cain.

"It's a matter of time when everything will come together," Gonzalez said. "Hopefully, we'll stay healthy. If we're all out there and competing at our best level, we're going to be a good team.

Anderson has pins inserted in broken finger

COL@SF: Anderson injures his finger, leaves game

SAN DIEGO -- Rockies left-hander Brett Anderson had four small pins inserted into his left index finger to help speed the healing of a broken bone, which he suffered Saturday while batting against the Giants.

The pins, which will stay in Anderson's finger for about six weeks, will allow him to move the finger in a way a splint would not. After healing, Anderson will rehab.

No return date has been predicted, because Anderson will have to rehab and build his pitch count after healing.

Anderson was off to a solid start before the injury, with a 3.60 ERA in three starts.

Worth noting

• Recently retired Rockies star first baseman Todd Helton will be inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame on Friday night at the Marriott City Center hotel in Denver.

In 17 seasons, all with the Rockies, Helton established team records in hits (2,519), home runs (369), doubles (592), walks (1,335), runs scored (1,401), games played (2,247) and total bases (4,292).