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Helton welcomes Hudson to Coors Field

This has been a beautiful day in Denver. The temperature on the Coors Field scoreboard reads 86, the breeze is gentle.

But forgive Braves pitcher Tim Hudson if he thinks he has just arrived at prison and the Rockies’ Todd Helton is the warden.

Hudson is 0-2 with a 7.77 ERA in four career starts at Coors. And Helton is 9-for-1o against Hudson at his home.

What’s funny is the numbers are the total opposite at Turner Field, where Helton is 4-0 with a 1.84 ERA in four career starts against the Rockies, and has held Helton to 1-for-5.

The Rockies have brought up onetime White Sox right-hander Carlos Torres, who went 2-1 with a 2.88 ERA in five starts at Triple-A Colorado Springs. Torres, 29, will be used as a long man in the bullpen. Depending on how he’s used the next couple of days, he could be called upon to start Tuesday against the Padres if right-hander Jeremy Guthrie is not ready to return from a recent shoulder injury.

Guthrie, by the way, threw a touch-and-feel bullpen session today and will face hitters at Coors before Saturday night’s game with the Braves.

Braves veteran Chipper Jones announced this spring that this would be his final season. He’s going out with a blast. The Braves have gone 11-2 with him in the starting lineup and Jones has had at least one hit in eight of those 13 starts. He’s hitting second for the Braves tonight.

As Mark Bowman of MLB.com notes, Jones batted just .191 with a home run and a .623 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) in his first 11 regular season games at Coors Field. Since then, however, Jones has batted .356 with 11 home runs and a 1.104 OPS in his past 46 road games against the Rockies. No wonder he has shaken off a sore left knee to be in the lineup tonight.

Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler grew up in the Atlanta area, and the stats suggest he still loves the Braves. Fowler has batted .306 in 20 career games against the Braves. Helton (.332), the sizzling Carlos Gonzalez (.318) and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (.311) also are better than .300 against the Braves.

Now for the lineups.

BRAVES

1. Michael Bourn, CF (.321, 0 HR, 6 RBIs)

2. Chipper Jones, 3B (.273, 4 HR, 14 RBIs)

3. Freddie Freeman, 1B (.280, 4 HR, 19 RBIs)

4. Brian McCann, C (.241, 5 HR, 14 RBIs)

5. Dan Uggla, 2B (.265, 3 HR, 15 RBIs)

6. Jason Heyward, RF (.272, 2 HR, 11 RBIs)

7. Eric Hinske, LF (.357, 0 HR, 4 RBIs)

8. Jack Wilson, SS (.138, 0 HR, 3 RBIs)

9. Tim Hudson, RHP (1-0, 3.60 ERA)

ROCKIES

1. Marco Scutaro, 2B (.275, 0 HR, 1 RBI)

2. Jonathan Herrera, 3B (.265, 1 HR, 3 RBIs)

3. Carlos Gonzalez, LF (.310, 7 HRs, 23 RBIs)

4. Troy Tulowtizki, SS (.280, 3 HR, 13 RBIs)

5. Todd Helton, 1B (.236, 4 HR, 17 RBIs)

6. Michael Cuddyer, RF (.282, 2 HR, 12 RBIs)

7. Ramon Hernandez, C (.279, 4 HR, 14 RBIs)

8. Dexter Fowler, CF (.240, 4 HR, 11 RBIs)

9. Guillermo Moscoso, RHP (0-1, 10.80 ERA)

Carlos Torres to get the call for Rockies; Blackmon to Triple-A DL

Right-handed pitcher Carlos Torres, who pitched for the White Sox in 2009 and 2010 and spent last season in Japan and has made five starts at Triple-A Colorado Springs, will join the Rockies on Friday for the weekend series with the Braves at Coors Field.

Torres, 29, who was 1-3 with a 6.86 ERA in 13 games including six starts with the White Sox, takes the roster spot of right-handed pitcher Jhoulys Chacin, who was sent down to Colorado Springs on Wednesday.

Torres is 2-1 with a 2.88 ERA in five starts for the Sky Sox. He has 25 strikeouts against 11 walks, with five of those walks coming in his first outing of the season.

The Sky Sox had scheduled him to start Friday night’s game at Sacramento.

Last season, Torres went 1-2 with a 6.26 ERA in six starts for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan.

For now the Rockies plan to use Torres as a long man out of the bullpen. It’s not clear who will start Monday night, which would have been Chacin’s next turn.

The Sky Sox replaced Torres with Brandon Hynick, a onetime prospect who threw a perfect game for the Sky Sox in 2009. Hynick was traded to the White Sox in late 2009 for right-handed pitcher Jose Contreras. Hynick rejoined the Rockies’ organization after being released by the Reds this spring, and has been pitching at the Rockies’ extended spring training.

In another move, left-handed hitting outfield prospect Charlie Blackmon was placed on the Colorado Springs seven-day disabled list with turf toe in his right big toe. It was the same injury that helped short-circuit his chances of making the Rockies during Spring Training.

Blackmon is hitting .203 with one home run and five RBIs in 17 games since being activated.

Rockies’ Tracy sees Dodgers’ Ted Lilly as another Jamie Moyer (only younger)

Dodgers left-handed pitcher Ted Lilly, 36, would be considered an old veteran if he weren’t in the same park as the Rockies’ Jamie Moyer, 49. Just call Lilly a younger version.

Lilly confounds the Rockies. he is 8-2 with a 3.84 ERA in 12 carer starts against them. His start against them tonight comes at a time when the Rockies are struggling to hit any pitcher like him. As the Denver Post’s Troy Renck reported today, Rockies third baseman Chris Nelson is 9-for-19 against lefty starters this season. The rest of the Rockies’ regulars, however, are 29-for-150 so far.

“He has some similarity to our left-hander by the name of Moyer,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. “Ted Lilly is a very intelligent pitcher. He has tremendous know-how. He’s not going to give in. Sitting on pitches against Ted Lilly is not a real good thing to do, because he’ll throw any pitch in any count. That’s what makes him successful. He’s very confident that he can do that, especially in hitter’s counts.”

Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has especially struggled against lefty starters this year — 3-for-21.

Still, the Rockies want the bat in Tulowitzki’s hands. Seven of Tulowitzki’s 13 RBIs have put the Rockies in the lead. The only players with more game-winning RBis are a pair of Dodgers — Andre Ethier (9) and Matt Kemp (8).

In an interesting lineup move, Eric Young Jr. will start in center field in place of Dexter Fowler and bat leadoff, with second baseman Marco Scutaro dropping from first to second. The switch-hitting Young is 2-for-4 with a triple against lefty pitchers, starters or relievers, this season.

Dodgers lineup

Dee Gordon, SS (.207, 0 HR, 4 RBIs)

Mark Ellis, 2B (.247, 0 HR, 2 RBIs)

Matt Kemp, CF (.417, 12 HR, 25 RBIs)

Andre Ethier, RF (.276, 5 HR, 24 RBIs)

James Loney, 1B (.232, 1 HR, 6 RBIs)

Tony Gwynn, LF (.250, 0 HR, 2 RBIs)

Adam Kennedy, 3B (.059, 0 HR, 1 RBI)

Ted Lilly, LHP (2-0, 0.90 ERA)

Rockies lineup

Eric Young Jr., CF (.294, 0 HR, 2 RBIs)

Marco Scutaro, 2B (.259, 0 HR, 1 RBI)

Carlos Gonzalez, LF (.303, 4 HR, 18 RBIs)

Troy Tulowitzki, SS (.282, 3 HR, 13 RBIs)

Michael Cuddyer, RF (.299, 2 HR, 12 RBIs)

Ramon Hernandez, C (.246, 4 HR, 14 RBIs)

Chris Nelson, 3B (.226, 0 HR, 4 RBIs)

Jhoulys Chacin, RHP (0-2, 5.85 ERA)

 

Ready or not, Rockies’ Brothers must be right as he faces Dodgers

After a slump of about a week and a half, Rockies left-handed relief pitcher Rex Brothers appears to be in better sorts. In his last three appearances, he has thrown three scoreless innings with seven strikeouts, two hits and no walks.

Brothers will need to be at top form with the Dodgers invading Coors Field on Monday night for the opener of a three-game series.

Leading the Dodgers, whose 16-6 record matches 1981 for tthe best start in franchise history, is Matt Kemp, who has a franchise-record 11 April homers and is the early frontrunner for National League Most Valuable Player. In tight, late situations, manager Jim Tracy will not let Kemp beat the Rockes.

In close, late situations, expect Tracy to walk Kemp and let Brothers face Andre Ethier, who is no slouch with five home runs and 24 RBIs — which ties him with memp for the National League lead. Still, that left-on-left matchup is one the Rockies would rather have.

“The deal with Rex Brothers yesterday was to get him right or get him much closer,” Tracy said. “As a matter of fact, he might be there, but monitoring every pitch that he threw yesterday to make sure that there’s availability for this specific situation.”

When Tracy managed the Dodgers a few years back, Kemp was a top Minor League prospect who impressed him during some Spring Training cameo appearances. Kemp went through a difficult 2010 season, but last year he realized his potential and finished second to the Brewers’ Ryan Braun in National League Most Valuable Player voting. Tracy said Kemp should be proud of his growth.

“I tip my cap to the guy,” Tracy said. “When you have young kids that hang on everything that goes on at the Major League level and have an opportunity to identify with a player like this, both character-wise and physically, that’s refreshing.”

Tracy rested right fielder Michael Cuddyer for just the second time this season. Tyler Colvin started in right field. The lineup also has Jonathan Herrera hitting second and playing third base, because Tracy wants to give Chris Nelson a day off because he had fought through left wrist soreness last week. Tracy also said that at some point in the three-game series with the Dodgers, Herrera will start at second base and Marco Scutaro will rest.

Dodgers lineup

Dee Gordon, SS (.207, 0 HR, 4 RBIs)

Mark Ellis, 2B (.247, 0 HR, 2 RBIs)

Matt Kemp, CF (.425, 11 HR, 24 RBIs)

Andre Ethier, RF (.277, 5 HR, 24 RBIs)

James Loney, 1B (.227, 1 HR, 6 RBIs)

Tony Gwynn Jr., LF (.242, 0 HRs, 2 RBIs)

A.J. Ellis, C (.277, 5 HRs, 24 RBIs)

Aaron Harang, RHP (1-1, 5.16 ERA)

Rockies lineup

Marco Scutaro, 2B (.247, 0 HR, 1 RBI)

Jonathan Herrera, 3B (.296, 1 HR, 3 RBIs)

Carlos Gonzalez, RF (.288, 4 HR, 16 RBIs)

Troy Tulowitzki, SS (.284, 3 HR, 11 RBIs)

Todd Helton, 1B (.270, 4 HRs, 16 RBIs)

Ramon Hernandez, C (.241, 4 HR, 12 RBIs)

Tyler Colvin, RF (.297, 1 HR, 6 RBIs)

Dexter Fowler, CF (.250, 4 HRs, 10 RBIs)

Juan Nicasio, RHP (1-0, 4.76 ERA)

Rockies: Helton, Hernandez rest; Colvin gets a start

Rockies manager Jim Tracy decided Wednesday to give veteran first baseman Todd Helton and catcher Ramon Hernandez extra rest by not starting them in Wednesday’s first game of a doubleheader against the Pirates at PNC Park. Jason Giambi started at first base and Willin Rosario was the catcher.

Game 1 also gave the Rockies an opportunity to start Tyler Colvin in center field. Colvin, hitting .323 in part-time duty, started instead of Dexter Fowler, who is at .224 after getting a hit in Tuesday night’s 5-4 loss to the Pirates.

“Hernandez and Helton, just because of the opportunity to give them a few more hours to recharge their batteries,” Tracy said. “I’m looking at our lineup in Game 1 and Game 2 and feeling real good about the fact that these lineups right here can win on any given day.

“I’m not taking anything away from Dexter because I’m using Dexter in the second game, but I want to keep Tyler Colvin in play and try to find him games to be involved in.”

Tracy said he plans to start left fielder Carlos Gonzalez, who homered twice Tuesday night, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and right fielder Michael Cuddyer in both games.

Right-handed relief pitcher Zach Putnam, recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs as the 26th player (allowed under new Collective Bargaining Agreement rules for doubleheaders), will wear No. 54. Putnam was 1-0 with a 1.23 ERA, three saves, 11 strikeouts and three walks in five Triple-A appeareances. Last season, Putnam appeared in eight games with the Indians (1-1, 6.14 ERA, nine strikeouts, two walks), and came to the Rockies over the winter for pitcher Kevin Slowey.

The Pirates are a heavily right-handed hitting team, which plays into the hands of today’s starting pitchers, Juan Nicasio and Jhoulys Chacin. Nicasio has held right-handed hitters to a .226 career aveage in a big-league career that has consisted of 14 starts last year and three this yer, and Game 2 starter Jhoulys Chacin has held righties to a career .208 average. This year, righties are hitting .100 (3-for-30), the fourth-lowest average among right-handed pitchers in baseball.

Rockies, Game 1

Marco Scutaro, 2B (.224)

Tyler Colvin, CF (.323)

Carlos Gonzalez, LF (.278)

Troy Tulowitzki, SS (.293)

Jason Giambi, 1B (.273)

Michael Cuddyer, RF (.322)

Wilin Rosario, C (.261)

Chris Nelson, 3B (.239)

Juan Nicasio, RHP (1-0, 6.19 ERA)

Pirates, Game 1

Alex Presley, LF (.288)

Jose Tabata, RF (.196)

Andrew McCutchen, CF (.339)

Neil Walker, 2B (.222)

Casey McGehee, 1B (.289)

Pedro Alvarez, 3B (.108)

Clint Barmes, SS (.146)

Michael McKenry, C (.286)

James McDonald, RHP (0-1, 3.45 ERA)

 

Tracy stays with Fowler despite scary matchup numbers

Tuesday night is as good a night as any for Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler to crack Pirates right-handed pitcher Kevin Correia.

Fowler is 0-for-19 in 21 plate appearances against Correia. Fowler has struck out nine times against one walk, and has a sacrifice bunt.

With Fowler hitting .222, it would seem a good time to sit him. But Fowler went 2-for-5 over the final two games of the Milwaukee series, when the Rockies took 2-of-3, and manager Jim Tracy said he wants to make sure to send Fowler the message that he is the starter in center field. Last year, Fowler struggled early when he was in and out of the lineup. After a demotion to Triple-A Colorado Springs, Fowler received steady playing time and was one of the hottest hitters on the team in the second half of the year.

This year Fowler has drawn seven walks and has a .327 on-base percentage, as well as two home runs and six RBIs from the No. 2 spot in the batting order.

Tracy has rotated his bench players into the starting lineup at various times, and said Wednesday’s doubleheader is a time to continue that practice. But he also wants his regular players to feel that they’re regulars, even when playing through slumps.

“I want them all in a good place, and I want them all to come to the ballpark with the realization and the expectation that unless I’ve told them something differently, that you expect to play,” Tracy said. “I don’t want them walking in here feeling like they have to do guesswork from day today whether or not they’re gonig to be in there.”

The most favorable matcup for the Rockies is catcher Ramon Hernandez, who is 3-for-5 (.600) with a double agaisnt Correia. Also, Carlos Gonzalez, hitting a pedestrian .240, is 4-for-14 with two home runs and a double against Correia.

Rockies lefty Jamie Moyer, the oldest pitcher to win a game in Major League history, will try to add to his record tonight at 49 years and 158 days.

Rockies lineup

Marco Scutaro, 2B (.222)

Dexter Fowler, CF (.222)

Carlos Gonzalez, LF (.240)

Troy Tulowitzki, SS (.296)

Todd Helton, 1B (.239)

Michael Cuddyer, RF (.345)

Ramon Hernandez, C (.289)

Chris Nelson, 3B (.256)

Jamie Moyer, LHP (.000)

Pirates lineup

Alex Presley, LF (.273)

Jose Tabata, RF (.170)

Andrew McCutchen, CF (.351)

Casey McGehee, 1B (.278)

Neil Walker, 2B (.240)

Yamico Navarro, 3B (.000)

Rod Barajas, C (.091)

Clint Barmes, SS (.089)

Kevin Correia, RHP (.251)

Tulowitzki rests, clears his head; Scutaro plays short, Herrera second

Veteran Jason Giambi introduced his friend and Rockies teammate, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, to someone really special Tuesday night.

“I showed him some highlights of him playing and, ‘That’s you.’” Giambi said. “I said, ‘I know. I’ve been there many times, the deer in the highlights look and you’re just reeling.’ He’ll get through this just great. He’ll be fine.”

Right now, Tulowitzki doesn’t recognize the player he sees in the mirror.

Tulowitzki committed two errors Tuesday night, the second of which nearly cost teammate Jamie Moyer in his bid to become the oldest Major League pitcher ever to win a game at 49 years and 151 days. The Rockies prevailed and Moyer earned his place in history. Now Tulowitzki needs to realize that his ability to control a game from shortstop isn’t history, either.

The present isn’t looking so bright for Tulowitzki. His six errors match his total for last season, and he is hitting .244. Both of those figures are shocking for a player who has won National League Rawlings Gold Glove and Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger awards for each of the last two seasons.

Tulowitzki, who was out of the lineup for the first time this season for the Padres-Rockies game Wednesday night, admitted the mistakes — especially the throwing errors — are weighing on him. He said he has been worried about his throwing since Saturday night, when he had two throwing errors while playing in wet and cold conditions against the D-backs.

“I’m taking the field and thinking about it,” Tulowitzki said. “I never thought about defense. I just go out there and play, and if I make an error, I made an error. But I wasn’t worried about it. So, yeah, I think about it. It’s in my head. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t in my head. I think about it because I care.

“It’s never that I don’t want the ball to come to me. Once I reach that point, then I have some serious problems. I want the ball. But more or less when you’re playing catch, it’s, ‘OK, hit him in the chest,’ where before it was just throwing it to him. It’s more things like that, that I never really thought about. There’s nothing more to really say than that.”

Tulowitzki suffered a right hip flexor strain during the season’s first series at Houston, but he played through it and insisted that there is no injury that’s preventng him from performing well.

Marco Scutaro moved from second base to shortstop, the position he occupied with the Red Sox last season, and Jonathan Herrera started at second base.

In other lineup news, catcher Wilin Rosario started for the second straight game while Ramon Hernandez nursed a sore left hand. Manager Jim Tracy said Hernandez should be available Friday night when the Rockies begin a three-game series at Milwaukee.

Padres lineup

Will Venable, CF

Chris Denorfia, RF

Chase Headley, 3B

Jesus Guzman, LF

Yonder Alonso, 1B

Nick Hundley, C

Jason Bartlett, SS

Orlando Hudson, 2B

Clayton Richard, LHP

Rockies lineup

Marco Scutaro, SS

Dexter Fowler, CF

Carlos Gonzalez, LF

Michael Cuddyer, RF

Todd Helton, 1B

Wilin Rosario, C

Chris Nelson, 3B

Jonathan Herrera, 2B

Juan Nicasio, RHP

Ring-ring … CarGo is ready to help Moyer

As Rockies manager Jim Tracy left Coors Field on Monday night, he was doubtful that Tuesday night’s lineup would include left fielder Carlos Gonzalez, who was in the final stages of recovery from a case of strep throat that had kept him out of the lineup since Friday.

“We talked about it last night, how I wanted to be in there, so they were waiting on my call in the morning,” Gonzalez said. “So I called and told him I was ready to play.

“I was getting better day by day. I can’t wait to get on the field and be ready to play.”

Gonzalez returns to his customary No. 3 position in the order against the Padres and righty starter Anthony Bass.

Lefty Jamie Moyer will make his third attempt to become the oldest pitcher ever to win a Major League game. His next win also will tie him with Hall of Famer Jim Palmer for 34th on the all-time list at 268.

In a pregame player move, the Rockies sent right-handed reliever Tyler Chatwood to Triple-A Colorado Springs to work as a starter, and he could help the rotation soon. The Rockies recalled hard-throwing righty reliever Edgmer Escalona from Colorado Springs.

Padres lineup

Cameron Maybin, CF

Mark Kotsay, LF

Chase Headley, 3B

Jesus Guzman, 1B

Nick Hundley, C

Chris Denorfia, RF

Andy Parrino, 2B

Jason Bartlett, SS

Anthony Bass, RHP

 

Rockies lineup

Marco Scutaro, 2B

Dexter Fowler, CF

Carlos Gonzalez, LF

Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Todd Helton, 1B

Michael Cuddyer, RF

Wilin Rosario, C

Chris Nelson, 3B

Jamie Moyer, LHP

 

 

Guthrie under the weather, on the mound

Just three times in nine games as the Rockies’ starting pitcher stayed in a game longer than five innings. Right-hander Jeremy Guthrie has one of the long ones, seven innings while winning the opener at Houston, and one of the short ones, 3 1/3 and six runs against although the Rockeis beat the Giants in comeback fashion.

Now Guthrie must shake off illness to give the Rockies the innings they need against the Padres on Monday night.

“He’s dealing with being a little bit under the weather,” Rockis manager Jim Tracy said. “It’s not even close to the extent with Carlos Gonzalez [who was at Coors Field and possibly able to pinch-hit, after missing two straight games with strep throat]. But he did have a little bit of a sore throat over the last day or so.

“We’re keeping an eye on that but also keeping out fingers crossed that this is one of those days where you go out there and get a Guthrie performance, where he potentially pitches you deep into a game and you can use your bullpen accordingly.”

Tonight, Tracy said the bullpen is not in bad shape. Right-hander Josh Roenicke, who went 2 2/3 inings on Sunday and an inning the previous game, is the only one definitely unavailable. Righty Esmil Rogers, who threw 62 pitches over two performances Thursday and Friday, is in play, as is righty Tyler Chatwood, although Tracy said Chatwod cannot pitch for an “extended period.”

Also, the Rockies have asked right-handed starter Jhoulys Chacin not to throw his scheduled bullpen session until later. He is available out of the bullpen in an emergency.

Padres lineup

Cameron Maybin, CF

Will Venable, LF

Chase Headley, 3B

Jeremy Hermida, RF

Nick Hundley, C

Yonder Alonso, 1B

Andy Parrino, 2B

Jason Bartlett, SS

Cory Luebke, LHP

Rockies lineup

Marco Scutaro, 2B

Dexter Fowler, CF

Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Todd Helton, 1B

Michael Cuddyer, RF

Tyler Colvin, LF

Ramon Hernandez, C

Chris Nelson, 3B

Jeremy Guthrie, RHP

Stand up and cheer Juan Nicasio

Opening Day is always special, but fans at Coors Field saved their special level of noise and joy for when right-handed pitcher Juan Nicasio was introduced. Nicasio, standing along the first-base line, stepped forward, doffed his cap and truly took in the appreciation.

We expect there will be another roar tonight, but Nicasio might be trying too hard to concentrate to acknowledge as fully. But folks will understand.

For the first time since last Aug. 5, when the Nationals’ Ian Desmond’s line drive bounced off his head and left him with a fractured skill and a broken C-1 vertebrae, Nicasio will be pitching at Coors when he faces the D-backs tonight at 6:40.

“I’ve been thinking about how it’s going to be like when I pitch my first game here,” Nicasio said Thursday. “I’m excited.”

The dramatic comeback story is enhanced by the fact Nicasio has become an important cog in the rotation. In his first start, at Houston on Sunday, Nicasio limited the Astros to one run and four hits in seven innings.

Although his last experience at Coors was horrifying, it’s been a good place for him. After being called up from Double-A tulsa last year, Nicasio went 4-1 with a 1.98 ERA in 41 innings at home.

What a homecoming this will be.

Rockies lineup

Scutaro 2B

Dexter Fowler, CF

Carlos Gonzalez, LF

Troy Tulowitzki, SS

Todd Helton, 1B

Michael Cuddyer, RF

Ramon Hernandez, C

Chris Nelson, 3B

Juan Nicasio, P

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