DENVER -- Was Colorado left-hander Javier Lopez tired, or was he just pitching badly? He will have to go to Triple-A Colorado Springs to find the answer.
The Rockies optioned Lopez (0-2, 9.93 ERA in 46 appearances), the team's left-handed specialist to this point, to the minors after Sunday afternoon's 10-9 victory over the San Francisco Giants. Lopez had issued 22 walks to 17 strikeouts this year after striking out 40 and giving up only 12 walks in his rookie season of 2003.
"This is performance-dictated," said Rockies manager Clint Hurdle, who is left with just one southpaw in the bullpen, long man Jeff Fassero. "He put himself in a precarious position earlier and he was able to pitch through it for a little while. But, we haven't seen the consistency we saw from him last year."
Lopez was stunned, but understood.
"Obviously I don't have the answer yet," said Lopez, who had never played above Double-A before last season, and will be getting his first Triple-A work. "But, hopefully working with (Colorado Springs pitching coach Bob) McClure down there, he's a lefty that throws kind of like I do, maybe he's got some ideas that can help me out. I don't know.
"The big leagues are a lot of pressure and it matters if you win or lose more than in the minors. It is a spot that you kind of cherish and when it's taken, especially by your own doing, it's kind of frustrating."
Javier Lopez / P
Weight: 200 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: L
In 2003, Lopez made appearances in 75 games and finished the season with a 4-1 record and a 3.70 ERA. Whether last year's workload affected this year's performance is anyone's guess. Such dropoffs have been common in Rockies history.
"Anytime we have a player, a relief pitcher who goes out and puts in over 70 appearances, I think it heightens your awareness of what's going to happen in the next season," Hurdle said. "Normally what you see is a drop in velocity, some arm issues. He had a minor flare-up early, but there has been no soreness. Command is the number one issue with Javy."
"Command is an issue right now -- I'm usually right around the zone, but right now it's sporadic," he said. "I would say I'm tired, but I wouldn't use that as an excuse. I'm always in there for a batter or two. It's not like I'm throwing multiple innings. I feel healthy, I feel fine."
The Rockies did not announce who will be called up to replace Lopez. It's possible Hurdle will use right-handers in situations that he used Lopez.
Sunday was the last day that veteran Turk Wendell, out since May 15, could pitch on his injury rehab assignment at Colorado Springs. Complicating that situation are Wendell's struggles in the minors (0-1, 7.36 ERA in 11 games, seven starts).
Miles from ordinary: Rockies second baseman Aaron Miles has impressed and maybe even surprised a few people with his defensive work. Miles was considered below-average defensively when the Rockies acquired him from the Chicago White Sox during the winter.
"Perception is what that is," Hurdle said. "It is a big word and in this game, it is one organization's perception versus another. He has been able to come through with hard work and focus and he's been able to pull it off. I give him a lot of credit.
"He's much more than adequate out there. We thought initially that he could be adequate. Well, he's past adequate. It is so easy to say that people can't play in this game when you are dealing with the volume of players we have."
Aaron Miles / 2B
Weight: 180 lbs
Bats: S / Throws: R
Miles has been working extensively on specific fielding skills with third base and infielder coach Sandy Alomar.
"Aaron has worked very hard," Alomar said. "He was very raw when he came here and he was afraid to make those backhand plays. He was stiff. He didn't believe in his backhand. He has been doing really well because he is smothering the ball just as we talked. And, the way he has hit at the plate has really helped him carry that confidence to the field."
Motivational factor: Rockies catcher Charles Johnson shared his frustration Saturday after sitting out his second straight game. Hurdle appeared encouraged by his frustration as he placed Johnson back in the lineup for Sunday's game and saw it as a motivational factor more than anything else.
"Charles is a professional," Hurdle said. "He has been very serviceable for us with the bat and with the glove. He has hit one home run in the last 2 1/2 months. When you look at those matchups, some of them are not very favorable. A lot of players fall into that category.
"I want all my guys to want to play. To be frustrated and disappointed they're not playing, that's where they need to be."
Joe Kennedy / P
Weight: 235 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: L
Pain report: Rockies left-hander Joe Kennedy has been nursing shoulder stiffness and missed his scheduled start Sunday. Kennedy threw a bullpen session Saturday for 30-35 pitches and will throw again in the next day or so before getting a rehab start in Triple-A Colorado Springs at the end of the week.
Kennedy has been bothered by shoulder stiffness in the past. He left a game after only three innings earlier this season and missed a start last year when he was with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
"It just goes with pitching," Kennedy said.
Fuentes also threw a bullpen session of about 25 pitches, but will have to throw a few more sessions before getting his rehab assignment.
"Fuentes is going to have to throw again in the bullpen a few more times and then we will get him into a competitive situation that will probably be more extensive than the one Kennedy is probably looking at," Hurdle said.
Lindsay Albanesi is a contributing writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.