PHILADELPHIA -- Rockies manager Jim Tracy flatly dismissed concerns that Ubaldo Jimenez was struggling physically from fatigue. Jimenez has struggled in two consecutive starts, allowing 10 earned runs in 7 1/3 innings, and lasted just two innings against the Phillies on Saturday, walking six.
Jimenez is on pace for 224 innings this season, which would be a career high, but not by many; he pitched 218 innings last year. He ranks ninth in the league with 134 1/3 innings this season entering Sunday.
"We could not have been more proactive about that," Tracy said. "If he could get an extra day of rest, we made sure he got it. I've taken I don't know how many questions about whether I thought about letting him go nine. Well, I thought about it and I decided against it. What were we proving to have him go out there and exert himself for another inning and more pitches?
"Honestly, I'm proud of the way we did it. If we had to do it over again, I'd do it the same way."
Jimenez has a 7.64 ERA in his last six starts. In April and May, he was untouchable with a 0.78 ERA, but since then, he's come back to earth with a 5.67 ERA in June and July.
"He's a big, strong, powerful man who has shouldered a burden for this club, and most of it during the first two months of the season," Tracy said. "Is that catching up? Is it more mental? Have we raised the bar? I read publication after publication comparing him to Bob Gibson and Denny McLain. At 26, was he not quite ready for that? Does that play into it?
"Because the bar has been raised so high, we've analyzed and over-analyzed what he's done. He may wind up being comparable to those two guys. I think there's a strong chance that will happen. But maybe that's not fair right now."
Tulowitzki poised to return to Rockies
PHILADELPHIA -- Troy Tulowitzki is scheduled to play nine innings in a rehab start Sunday and could theoretically join the Rockies on Monday for pinch-hit duties against the Phillies, but manager Jim Tracy said the team is leaning toward bringing him back Tuesday at home.
"Hopefully, he'll be in position to play against the Pirates," Tracy said.
When Tulowitzki does return, he'll slide back into the cleanup spot -- "Right back where he belongs," Tracy said -- but might get an extra day of rest here and there as he rounds back into shape. Tracy also cautioned that Tulowitzki can't be expected to carry the team himself the moment he returns.
"He sticks his head in my office quite a bit," Tracy said. "For a player in the position he's in, doing the things he does in this clubhouse, he's in here just enough.
"You can't hit a three-run homer with nobody on. We didn't get to where we got to with him shouldering the entire burden. It shows when he's back in your lineup, because he's there, and the other side of the field knows he's there. He makes everybody else on the team better. That's what this young man has done for the Colorado Rockies in the past, and what he'll do again."
Tulowitzki was hitting .306 with nine homers and a .502 slugging percentage when he injured his wrist. Since being placed on the disabled list June 18, the Rockies are 17-14 in 31 games without him, although they are 2-8 in their last 10 games.
"It will allow people to get back where we wanted them to be all along, where we're not inventing something," Tracy said. "We can get back to some semblance of what we wanted coming out of Spring Training.
"We have not pushed the envelope and tried to get too much out of some guys, where you try to hold serve until Troy gets back and you wind up ruining other parts of your club.
"We've won two less games than we did a year ago at this time. But a year ago at this time, we didn't have five weeks without Tulowitzki, we didn't have health issues with Todd Helton, we didn't have swing issues with Brad Hawpe. You look at the bad. But given what we've done in the absence of some guys people thought we'd need to be good, I think we're doing OK. Maybe not as good as we wanted to, but I laud this group for their effort."
Rockies hold team meeting
PHILADELPHIA -- The Rockies closed the clubhouse for a team meeting before Sunday's game.
Whether it will help or not will be clear in the coming days, but Rockies manager Jim Tracy and the players plainly felt the need to hash some things out. The Rockies were 2-7 on this trip entering Sunday.
This month, the Rockies are hitting just .197 away from Coors Field (worst July road batting average in the National League), with a .277 on-base percentage and a .325 slugging percentage. The starting pitching has posted a 5.69 ERA on this trip. More concerning to Tracy is the shaky fundamentals on the field. While no one seems to be panicking, the Rockies felt that it was time for their second closed-door meeting of the season.
Rockies sit Hawpe against left-hander
PHILADELPHIA -- Everyone in the Rockies' clubhouse insists Brad Hawpe is not injured. But something is so obviously amiss that when asked if Hawpe's struggles were related to health problems in some way, Rockies manager Jim Tracy shrugged and said: "Maybe."
"I've seen Brad Hawpe much better offensively," Tracy said. "There's no getting around that."
Hawpe ran into the wall in Los Angeles and injured his ribs on June 25. He's had just seven starts since June 29, and he's gotten progressively worse. Hawpe sat on Sunday against Phillies lefty J.A. Happ, and he's riding an 0-for-11 and a 1-for-17 on this road trip. He's hit two home runs since April.
He's also hitting just .202 on the road this season, after batting .275 with 14 homers on the road last year. His name has popped up in trade rumors, although his value is uncertain given his struggles at the plate. At the very least, Tracy was touting Hawpe's versatility and praising the work he's done in spot duty at first base.
"I'm thrilled about watching him play defense the way he did," Tracy said. "He was so smooth, his hands and his footwork were smooth. He played the position flawlessly."
Kevin Roberts is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.