DENVER -- Four-time All-Star catcher Paul Lo Duca, released Friday from the Rockies' Triple-A affiliate in Colorado Springs, said Friday he believes he can return to the Majors this year.
Lo Duca, 38, who played for current Rockies manager Jim Tracy during some of his best days a few years back with the Dodgers, was not playing regularly. He and Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd said the agreement was mutual, so Lo Duca would have a chance to pursue other opportunities.
Lo Duca, who was out of baseball in 2009 after battling injuries with the Nationals and the Marlins in 2008, hit .233 with one home run and seven RBIs in 14 games (43 at-bats) for the Sky Sox. Lo Duca's season was delayed by a muscle strain in the armpit area during Spring Training. He said he found his hitting stroke during extended Spring Training, but he joined the Sky Sox around the time that Chris Iannetta was sent down from the Majors. The Sky Sox also have prospect Michael McKenry catching.
"It was just hard for me to get at-bats," Lo Duca said. "I played second base for one game, and I hadn't played second base since high school. It was a tough situation, with Iannetta coming down, and McKenry has to play. I understand they have guys that need to play."
Lo Duca said he and his agent, Dan Evans, are making calls but realize response might be slow because of the holiday weekend. He said the Rockies are allowing him to continue working out at the ballpark in Colorado Springs through the weekend, then he'll go home to Westbury, N.Y., to stay in shape.
"I feel as healthy as I've felt in a long time," Lo Duca said. "I feel I will be back in the big leagues sometime this year."
Homers come in bunches for Rockies
DENVER -- The Rockies are experiencing a power surge, having homered in 10 consecutive games, a season high.
The lineup has produced 17 homers in those 10 games, including two or more in four of the past five games.
"Hits are contagious," said second baseman Clint Barmes, who homered Friday night. "With good swings, going up there consistently and getting good at-bats from different guys in a lineup, good things are going to happen."
During the 10-game stretch, eight players have homered.
It's something opposing teams have noticed, as well. Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, who had homered in two straight games coming off the disabled list, was intentionally walked in the bottom of the ninth on Friday night as the winning run.
"I thought I was going to hit, but that's one of those moves that a veteran manager like Joe Torre will make," Gonzalez said. "That was his mentality right there, that it was a good move for him."
Right fielder Brad Hawpe is the only Colorado player to homer off the Dodgers' Saturday starter, Hiroki Kuroda.
Stewart settling in defensively at third
DENVER -- Making a play from the seat of his pants helped Rockies third baseman Ian Stewart put his feet on solid ground defensively.
With the Rockies holding a one-run lead over the D-backs at the start of the seventh inning Tuesday night, Stewart reacted quickly to his left to grab a hard one-hopper from Mark Reynolds, spun and threw while seated for a key out in an eventual 3-2 victory.
Stewart also reached into the D-backs' dugout to catch a foul ball in the ninth inning of that game with a runner on base, made a diving play behind ace Ubaldo Jimenez the following night and had a hand in half of the first 14 outs -- some plays with a high degree of difficulty -- in the Rockies' 5-4 loss to the Dodgers on Friday night.
"I felt like I needed that one play to kind of settle me in for the season defensively, and I finally made that against Reynolds," said Stewart, who had four early errors and seemed uncharacteristically unsure of himself. "I just feel a lot more comfortable over at third.
"My timing is down perfectly in tune with my footwork, the pitcher's release point and when the ball is going through the zone. It's kind of like hitting."
Rockies manager Jim Tracy said Stewart could improve his concentration on the ball when he has a close play that he has to field with his bare hand, but that's not much of a complaint. Tracy managed the Dodgers when he thought Adrian Beltre played third base at a level comparable to that of perennial Gold Glove winner Scott Rolen. Tracy said Stewart is every bit as effective.
"He's a terrific defensive third baseman, no getting around it," Tracy said. "He has a tremendous first step to either side, to the hole, to the line, can throw off-balance, can throw from the ground.
"He hast the potential of being one of the game's best."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Joey Nowak is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.