DENVER -- Rockies manager Jim Tracy said his decision Thursday to move center fielder Dexter Fowler to No. 8 in the batting order after hitting him leadoff for much of the season is designed with an eye toward returning him to the top spot.The switch-hitting Fowler, who batted second, second and first in his last three games, went into Thursday night's game against the D-backs batting .244 with a .354 on-base percentage. The Rockies made him a leadoff man because of his speed, but he was 2-for-8 on steal attempts. Also his 55 strikeouts were tied for third-most in the National League. On the flip side, he was hitting .371 (13-for-35, five doubles) with runners in scoring position. Some of the numbers may suggest a hitter better suited to bat in the bottom of the order, but Tracy said the move to eight should not be read as permanent. Tracy said batting from the eight position will give Fowler a better opportunity to improve his swing, especially from the left side. His swing is often lengthy, and all but 10 of his strikeouts are from that side. "We need to work on getting him in more of a direct path to the ball left-handed, similar to what we see with his swing right-handed," Tracy said. "So putting him where we are in the lineup, we are utilizing the fact of the great work he does for us defensively in center field. Hopefully we can get something accomplished there. "I absolutely feel that in us doing what we're doing right now, we're hopefully creating a forum for him to work on some of the things that I just mentioned. If in fact he accomplishes some of those things, there'll be an opportunity to think of getting him back up to the top of the lineup for us and be even more of a damaging player up there than he has at times hitting there for us." Seth Smith moved to the leadoff spot on Thursday. Fowler doesn't believe the move alleviates pressure. Besides, it beats what happened at the end of May last year, when the Rockies sent him down to Triple-A Colorado Springs for 27 games. "Not really," he said. "As long as I'm in the lineup and playing, I'm happy. I feel comfortable at the plate. Dating back to [this time] last year, I didn't even feel comfortable at the plate. I feel comfortable at the plate right now -- I'm just not getting the results I want. A lot of it has to do with my swing and just being comfortable with my swing, a point we're still working on."
Lopez says his Rockies days are done
DENVER -- Frustrated by what he says was bad luck and an inability to adjust to irregular playing time, Rockies infielder Jose Lopez said Thursday night that he has been designated for assignment.Lopez made the announcement after he went 0-for-1 as a pinch-hitter to bring his batting average to .208 during a 6-3 loss to the D-backs at Coors Field. The Rockies did not make an official announcement. Early speculation was the Rockies would bring up utility man Eric Young Jr. from Triple-A Colorado Springs. Young, batting .363 through 42 games for the Sky Sox, was scratched from the lineup for Thursday's game at Albuquerque. Young, a speedster, is 17-for-18 on stolen-base attempts, and the Rockies' leadoff position is in flux, with Dexter Fowler now hitting eighth. Lopez, 27, was acquired from the Mariners during the offseason for Minor League pitcher Chaz Roe. Lopez homered for the Rockies on Opening Day and had a four-hit game on May 19 against the Phillies, but he mostly struggled in purple pinstripes. Not only did he struggle for hits, but the emergence of Jonathan Herrera at second base cost him playing time. Lopez appeared in 38 games and made 32 starts, 23 at third base and nine at second base. "I hit the ball hard; that's all I can do, and I had no luck," said Lopez, who said he was informed of the decision immediately after Thursday night's game. "I've had this before -- hit .170 in 200 at-bats, then start hitting and get to .250, .270. "I want to play every day. I didn't get a chance to play every day. That's what happened. I'd play one day and not get to play the next two. That's the first time for me. I played the last five years 150 games. This year, I played the first couple weeks, then started getting on the bench." Another reason the Rockies could turn to Young is right fielder Seth Smith, who hit leadoff Thursday night and has done so on occasion, suffered a right groin cramp and left the game in the seventh inning. The other option, with Fowler hitting eighth to correct his swing and cut down on strikeouts, is Herrera, but manager Jim Tracy likes his work at the No. 2 spot. Bringing up Young, who plays second and has picked up outfield in the last couple of seasons, would likely mean some position shifts. Herrera is capable of playing third if Young joins the club and plays second. There could be immediate playing time for Young in the outfield. Smith is considered day to day, so Young could join Fowler, who plays center, and Carlos Gonzalez, who starts in left but can play either corner.
Young, who turned 26 on Wednesday, appeared in 51 games for the Rockies last season and hit .244 with five doubles, a triple and 17 stolen bases in 23 attempts. However, his season was interrupted by a fractured right tibia. Although he returned to the club in August, the injury had not fully healed before Spring Training, which hampered his candidacy for the Opening Day roster.Once the Lopez move becomes official, the Rockies will have 10 days to decide how to place him. They'll likely seek a trade and are likely to release him if they can't make a deal. Lopez, who is owed $3.6 million this season, is the second Rockies offseason acquisition to be designated for assignment. The Rockies made that move Saturday with right-handed reliever Felipe Paulino, who came from the Astros in a trade for former starting infielder Clint Barmes. The Rockies dealt Paulino to the Royals for cash considerations on Thursday night. Lopez also was the third personnel shakeup in a week. The club traded struggling left-handed pitcher Franklin Morales to the Red Sox last week for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
Rockies sympathize with Giants' Posey
DENVER -- After losing a key member of their own team on Tuesday, the Rockies can sympathize with the division-rival Giants.San Francisco will likely be without Buster Posey for the rest of the season after the catcher suffered a broken bone in his lower left leg in a collision at the plate with Florida's Scott Cousins on Wednesday. The injury to the reigning National League Rookie of the Year came just a day after the Rockies lost left-handed starter Jorge De La Rosa for the season with a torn ulnar collateral ligament. "I cringed," said Rockies manager Jim Tracy, who watched the Posey injury unfold on TV. "I want you to know right now, even though it's a player from another club, nobody likes to see that happen." The devastating injuries to De La Rosa and Posey are evidence of how fast dynamics of the division can change, said Tracy, who has spent parts of eight seasons as manager in the NL West with the Dodgers and Rockies. "This division has always been one where people say, 'Oh, this team team is going to win, or that team is going to win,'" Tracy said. "But it takes one play or one pitch for it to happen, to now all of a sudden the complete perspective of the entire division changes."
Rogers getting closer to pitching again
DENVER -- Rockies right-hander Esmil Rogers threw about 60 pitches during a bullpen session on Wednesday as he continues to recover from a strained right lat muscle.On Monday, he'll throw live batting practice at the Rockies' complex in Scottsdale, Ariz., and he hopes to pitch in an extended spring training game on Thursday. Rogers said the muscle felt good after Wednesday's workout. "He's working his way closer to getting up and running and getting close to pitching again," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "We're getting very close to that."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. Nick Kosmider is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.