DENVER -- The Rockies are in a period in which they aren't bashful about using change. But despite the fact Huston Street has given up five home runs in his last eight appearances, he remains the closer -- for now.
"Not today," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said when asked if he was considering changing his ninth-inning strategy. "But I do know this: we need to keep the ball in the ballpark."
There have been several personnel moves, but Tracy also made a strategic move this week by backing right-handed setup man Rafael Betancourt out of the eighth inning while he tries to regain consistency. So if balls keep flying over fences -- the D-backs' Kelly Johnson was the latest to take Street deep, with a two-run shot that took the air out of a rally in a 6-3 loss Thursday night -- Street could find himself watching the Rockies try to close games.
Street understands fully.
"As a player, you do as you're told," Street said. "You have an opinion about what you're capable of doing, and obviously my opinion is I know I can pitch the ninth. I know I can get it done in the ninth.
"But if you approach this game the right way, I don't think anybody feels, 'I can take a breather because I'm pitching the seventh.' You can lose the game in the seventh just as you can lose the game in the ninth. It does give you confidence as a player when they stick with you through a rough patch, but the bottom line is you've got to work through it to keep it. That's something I understand."
Street lengthened his stride toward home plate earlier this month. The immediate results were efficient saves as the Rockies took two straight over the Giants. In fairness, he has been mostly on target -- 23 strikeouts against four walks in 24 2/3 innings this season.
But the mistakes tend to travel a long way, and that really hurts at the end of games. In his last two appearances, he gave up a leadoff homer to Yuniesky Betancourt in the 13th inning of an eventual Rockies loss in Milwaukee and he served up Johnson's homer.
One way Street, whose seven home runs allotted this year in just 24 2/3 innings matches his career high for a season, remains confident is by taking a step back from the numbers. In nine May appearances, he is 0-1 with a 7.56 ERA, but he is 4-of-6 on save chances and 14-of-16 for the season.
Street chuckled that there's no rule saying all his mistakes have to be knocked out of the park, but it seems that way.
"When you're really close, it's even more frustrating, because you barely miss and they beat you," Street said. "It's making pitch after pitch, which is what I've done for seven years of my career. You look at previous seasons and you realize where you were at the same time that year, and say, 'I had a really good year that year, and I'm actually ahead of where I was at that time numbers-wise.'
"The truth is, it's number of runs. I've given up 11 runs, and I've given up 10 of those runs on seven swings. It stands to reason if I can limit the homers, I'm going to be really good."
Young excited to be back with big club
DENVER -- It didn't quite come in time to be part of his birthday celebration, but Eric Young Jr. said his callup from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Friday serves as the perfect belated present.
Young, who turned 26 on Wednesday, takes over the 25-man roster spot of Jose Lopez, who was designated for assignment after hitting .208 with two home runs and eight RBIs in 38 games.
The Rockies are seeking an immediate impact from Young, who hit leadoff and started in center field in the team's series opener against the Cardinals on Friday.
"I'm just excited to be back," said Young, who hit .244 (42-for-172) in 51 games for the Rockies last season. "Everybody had big smiles on their faces when I came in, so hopefully those smiles stay on everyone's faces for a while."
Young, a 30th round pick by the Rockies in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, worked his way up through the Rockies organization as an infielder, but he spent most of his 42 games this season with Colorado Springs -- where he hit .363 with 17 RBIs -- playing center field.
The reasons for inserting Young into the lineup right away, manager Jim Tracy said, were two-fold.
"It will give Dexter [Fowler] a day to catch his breath, No. 1," Tracy said. "No. 2 [is] to try to create some kind of spark for our offense, and this young man did an awfully good job of that last year.
"I'm really hopeful that Eric Young, Jr. kind of picks up where he's been in different stints here in the past, where he's provided that spark for the club, and create some intriguing decision-making for us from day to day."
Young, who missed the earlier part of Spring Training while recovering from a fractured shin he suffered last season, could also see time at right field and at second base, though Tracy said the majority of the starts at that position will continue to go to Jonathan Herrera.
The Rockies are hopeful Young can also provide some life on the base paths, as he has stolen 17 bases in 18 attempts for Colorado Springs this season. The Rockies entered Friday's action having not stolen a base in 10 games. They've attempted just three steals in that period.
Young Jr. missed celebrating the promotion with his father, former Rockies second baseman and current D-backs first-base coach Eric Young, who left Denver with the D-backs on Thursday after they completed a series win over the Rockies with a 6-3 victory.
"I had a birthday a couple days ago, so it would have been awesome to spend it with him," Young said. "But I'm here now, and all I can do is take advantage. ... I just want to keep it simple. Go up there and see the ball, hit the ball."
Rockies 'not interested in average'
DENVER -- Even a team that ranks patience at or near the top of the virtues it wants to extol has to make changes. That's where the Rockies stand.
In the last two weeks, the Rockies have sent Opening Day third baseman Ian Stewart down to Triple-A Colorado Springs, traded relief pitchers Franklin Morales and Felipe Paulino and, most recently, cut ties with infielder Jose Lopez.
They've also ushered center fielder Dexter Fowler out of the leadoff spot in the batting order and made every indication that speedy switch-hitter Eric Young Jr., called up from Colorado Springs on Friday, is getting his opportunity. Hard-throwing right-handed prospect Juan Nicasio will make a spot-start Saturday night against the Cards in his Major League debut, but if he succeeds he could force the Rockies to keep him longer.
"We're not interested in average," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "I go back to what I talked about in Spring Training. When you have over four months of baseball to play and you're three games down [behind the Giants in the National League West] in the loss column, there is a ton of baseball yet to be played.
"Yet, the things that we engaged in early on that haven't been working out, we're not going to keep sitting around and pretending like, 'Let's go on with this for X amount of period of time.'"
Here are the ramifications of the latest moves -- calling up Young and designating Lopez for assignment:
Although Young was a second baseman for much of his Minor League career, he will primarily play outfield. He played center at Colorado Springs and started there Friday night for the Rockies. Tracy said he'll also work out in right field. Tracy said Young will take groundballs at second, but stopped short of saying he would start there.
If Young is being used primarily in the outfield, it means Jonathan Herrera, who has received passing grades for his work in the No. 2 position in the order, will remain at second base.
With Herrera remaining at second, veteran Ty Wigginton, brought in to play several positions with the understanding that he could start if the need arises, will receive an opportunity to run with the third base job. Wigginton, who like Lopez slumped early, entered Friday hitting .235 with three home runs and 12 RBIs in 31 games.
The switch-hitting Fowler, who didn't start Friday, was moved out of the leadoff spot earlier this week, and could be in a competition with Young for at-bats in center. Fowler does not play the corners. There could be room for both in the outfield -- Fowler in center and Young in right, with Young hitting leadoff -- as long as Seth Smith is out of the lineup with what is being called a mild right groin strain. But how Tracy balances Fowler and Young will depend on how they perform in the coming days.
Rockies manager Jim Tracy said right fielder Seth Smith will be limited in the series against the Cardinals after suffering a slight groin strain during the Rockies' loss to the D-backs on Thursday.
"He did not pull the groin or anything like that, but he did tweak it a little bit," Tracy said.
Smith is hitting .306 with five home runs and 22 RBIs.
Triple-A Colorado Springs third baseman Ian Stewart suffered a right hamstring pull on Thursday. The Sky Sox put Stewart on the 7-day disabled list retroactive to Wednesday, but there is no timetable for his return.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Nick Kosmider is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.