Iannetta's hot bat earns him more time
Catcher has 11 hits in last 35 at-bats with five homers
MIAMI -- Chris Iannetta realizes the Rockies' operation works best with two catchers.
The past two games Iannetta caught ended up shutouts for Rockies pitching -- Sunday against the Reds and Tuesday against the Marlins. That was one reason Rockies manager Jim Tracy went with him for a second straight game on Wednesday, against the Marlins. Miguel Olivo, the primary catcher for much of this season, will start Thursday's day game after resting for two games.
Iannetta entered Wednesday 11 for his past 35, with five home runs and 10 RBIs.
"From a business standpoint and a team-building standpoint, to have two catchers of the caliber that the Rockies have right now is very beneficial for the team and the organization," Iannetta said.
But baseball is a people business, and Iannetta is more than just a name on the roster sheet.
The plan all along once the Rockies signed Iannetta for three years and $8.35 million, and signed Olivo for two years and $2.5 million, was for them to share the job. Long games in Colorado's climate dictate such a plan. Iannetta struggled early and wound up toiling at Triple-A Colorado Springs from April 27 to May 25.
However, all that is past. Iannetta, developed through the club's Minor League system, is making a lot of people happy. Iannetta struggled in 2007 and 2009 -- years that the Rockies went to the playoffs -- and ended up sitting behind Yorvit Torrealba, now with the Padres. Now it looks as if Iannetta will be a big part of a club in a playoff race.
"I've always said that I want to play to my potential and I want to be a part of it," Iannetta said. "I want to be a good teammate, good friend to a lot of the guys and help them win."
Offensively, Iannetta has figured out how to make his patience at the plate work for him in the Majors. At times he earned criticism for being overly patient. Now he's showing the ability to lay off key pitches that aren't strikes, and demonstrating the strength to solidly put balls in play even when he's had to adjust his timing.
"I'm not doing something magically different," Iannetta said. "It's just happening."
Tracy said he is more excited about Iannetta's defensive work. The two shutouts were starts by veterans Aaron Cook and Jeff Francis, who had struggled to various degrees.
"I've had a lot of very emphatic conversations with him about the importance of 60 feet, six inches between two players on our field and how that can win and lose," Tracy said. "That's something I believe he has really embraced."
Rockies' top pick to keep options open
MIAMI -- Outfielder Kyle Parker, the Rockies' top pick in the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft, announced he will return to Clemson for football this season instead of signing to play baseball exclusively.
This does not change much in terms of the Rockies. The club went into the Draft knowing there was a good chance, a quarterback who led Clemson to the 2009 Atlantic Division title, could continue his football career. He and the Rockies will continue to negotiate.
Parker had set a deadline of Tuesday for negotiating a football-only situation with the Rockies. However, the Rockies' official deadline is Aug. 16, the date by which clubs must sign their picks or else lose rights to them.
"I was in a situation where I couldn't make a bad decision," Parker said in a decision that was reported by ESPN.com. "All my options are still on the table at this point. The only option I have ruled out is playing baseball exclusively for the Colorado Rockies right now. Negotiations will continue with the Rockies, but I will play football at Clemson this fall."
Under NCAA rules, Parker is allowed to be a professional in one sport and an amateur in another. In addition, under Major League rules, because Parker is a two-sport athlete, the Rockies are allowed to spread his signing bonus over a number of years should he sign.
Helton to DH for two games in Class A
MIAMI -- Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, on the disabled list since July 7 with lower back stiffness, left the team Wednesday to report to Class A Asheville for a two-game injury rehab assignment as a designated hitter.
Helton, 37, who hit .246 with two homers and 16 RBIs and struggled at times before being placed on the DL, was eligible to return Tuesday night.
However, manager Jim Tracy decided against having him return immediately, citing difficult pitching matchups against the Marlins' Josh Johnson on Thursday and the Phillies' Roy Halladay on Friday. On Wednesday afternoon, Tracy said a Minor League rehab assignment was being discussed.
The move was announced after the Rockies' 5-2 loss to the Marlins on Wednesday night.
In other injury news, the Rockies rested outfielder Dexter Fowler on Wednesday night. Tracy said Fowler suffered pain in his left wrist while taking a swing in Tuesday night's game.
Tulowitzki performs well in first rehab start
MIAMI -- Rockies All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, out of game action since suffering a fractured left wrist when he was hit by a pitch on June 17, went 1-for-2 for Triple-A Colorado Springs against Sacramento in his first game of an injury rehab assignment.
Tulowitzki also participated in three double plays during the game, which was played at Security Service Field in Colorado Springs.
The Rockies' plan is for Tulowitzki to play in two games for the Sky Sox and up to four for Double-A Tulsa -- he has made himself available to pinch-hit the day he arrives in Tulsa, and is scheduled to pinch-hit in the final game -- before being evaluated for a possible return next Wednesday at home against the Pirates.
Tulowitzki hit .306 with nine home runs and 34 RBIs before the injury, and his peers elected him to the National League All-Star team for the first time in his career. He was unable to play because of the injury.
Morales battling inconsistency at Triple-A
MIAMI -- Left-hander Franklin Morales, who entices and frustrates the Rockies with his powerful arm and intermittent control, threw scoreless ball in four of his six appearances since being sent down to Triple-A Colorado Springs in early July.
Behind the numbers, however, is the same inconsistency that led to his being sent down in the first place.
Against Fresno on July 6, he walked all three batters he faced but none scored. Of course, Sunday against Portland he struck out four in two innings. Until strong outings and pinpoint control become the norm, his is a talented arm the Rockies can't use.
Morales began the season as the Rockies' closer, with Huston Street out with shoulder tightness. But Manuel Corpas replaced him in the middle of May.
"We're keeping a very close eye on it," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "No one will give up on this guy with the ability that he possesses and the type of kid that he is."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.