DENVER -- Rockies closer Huston Street's long and winding path back to the Major Leagues took a small step forward with a 20-pitch bullpen session at Coors Field on Tuesday afternoon.
Street has battled shoulder tightness since Spring Training. During his second injury rehab start for Double-A Tulsa on May 15, Street suffered a groin strain. Until Monday, he was relegated to playing long toss.
Several times throughout the rehabilitation process, Street, who converted 35 of 37 save chances last year, spoke with anticipation that a return to the Majors was near. On Tuesday, he spoke with the caution befitting a man hoping the emotional roller-coaster ride will end soon. Street said he also did strength training and will continue to build confidence that he's healthy. He has not yet heard what the next step will be.
"It's been one of those unfortunate sets of events," Street said. "We've gotten past my shoulder. Now we're just trying to get past this. It's frustrating more than anything just because it's time -- it's time away from your team. I haven't played this season. It's a tough reality to face, but I can't do anything about the past however many days it's been. I can just try to get back as fast as possible."
Left-hander Jorge De La Rosa, who was 3-1 with a 3.91 ERA in three starts before going to the disabled list with a ligament band tear in his left middle finger, threw from 70 feet. He said he felt fine when he took the protective wrapping off for the final 10 throws. He hasn't graduated to throwing on a mound yet.
Gonzalez sidelined by wrist ailment
DENVER -- Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez was out of the starting lineup on Tuesday for the third consecutive game because of a wrist injury he suffered on Thursday night in Houston while sliding into second on a steal attempt.
As a precaution, the Rockies ordered an MRI, but no alarming damage was found.
Gonzalez (.303, four HR, 28 RBI) could be back in the lineup Wednesday, Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.
Rockies kick off key homestand
DENVER -- Though it's the end of May, the Rockies are treating this homestand like an October set.
"There weren't any in the beginning, on April 5, and there won't be any in the first few days of October -- there won't be any gimmies," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "We're very well aware of that. You want to win your division, you need to play well in your own division. You're not backing into a division championship by playing sub-par baseball in your own division."
Returning home from a seven-game road trip in which they went 3-4 against the Cubs, Astros and Royals, the Rockies have an opportunity to gain ground in the National League West.
They first play three games against the D-backs (20-25), who entered Tuesday in last place. Then the Dodgers (25-19) come to town for three more games this weekend. Los Angeles is a game back of division-leading San Diego (26-18) and three games ahead of the Rockies.
"It's huge," Rockies third baseman Ian Stewart said. "The Diamondbacks aren't pushovers. We can't just go out there and feel like we cannot play up to our best and still win. We've got to come out and play hard. Any time you play in the division, you want to win those games because those are the ones that matter."
Matsui returns to Rockies' fold
DENVER -- Second baseman Kazuo Matsui passed a physical on Tuesday and will join the Rockies' Triple-A affiliate Colorado Springs on a Minor League contract. The Sky Sox are playing in Omaha.
Matsui, 34, was the Rockies' starter at the position when they went to the World Series in 2007. He went 5-for-12 with a home run and six RBIs against the Phillies that season in a three-game sweep of the National League Division Series.
Since then, Matsui has been with the Astros, but he was released on May 19 after hitting .141 in 27 games. In six Major League seasons, after having been a star in Japan, Matsui has hit .267 with 124 doubles, 30 triples, 32 home runs and 102 stolen bases for the Mets (2004-06), Rockies (2006-07) and Astros.
Matsui will provide infield depth for the Rockies. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Iannetta recovers stroke, returns to Rockies
DENVER -- The Rockies recalled catcher Chris Iannetta from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Tuesday, having declared that he has made the improvements necessary to warrant regular Major League playing time.
Iannetta was sent down in late April after hitting .133 with two home runs, two RBIs and 11 strikeouts in 30 at-bats. At Colorado Springs, Iannetta hit .349 with five home runs and 21 RBIs. He had 10 walks and 10 strikeouts. The Rockies also designated veteran backup Paul Phillips for assignment.
The demotion was a difficult decision for the Rockies, who signed Iannetta, 27, to a three-year, $8.35 million contract during the offseason. But after seeing Iannetta tentative and, manager Jim Tracy said, "confused" offensively, the club felt that was the only way he's be able to work through his issues. Miguel Olivo, who was sharing the catching duty at the beginning of the year, was on a power-hitting hot streak.
Olivo has started 32 of the team's 44 games this season. Now Iannetta is expected to resume sharing the starts.
"The message that gets sent by recalling him is that it's not punishment," Tracy said. "It's an opportunity for you to go and get into a different arena and get some things sorted out, which obviously offensively and defensively it's apparent that all that has taken place."
Rockies honor champion ski team
DENVER -- Before Tuesday's game, the Rockies honored the University of Denver ski team, which was celebrating its 2010 national championship and third consecutive title.
The Pioneers won their seventh title since 2000 and have 21 in total. The team had six alpine skiers earn All-American honors and were led by four-time NCAA individual champion Antje Maempel and men's giant slalom champion Leif Kristian Haugen.
Denver's 21 skiing national championships are the most in the nation in skiing and fourth most in any sport.