St. LOUIS -- Veteran left-handed pitcher J.C. Romero could return to the Majors with the Rockies as early as Monday.

After being released by the Phillies earlier in the season, Romero spent time in Triple-A with the Nationals' and Yankees' organizations. After obtaining his release from the Yankees, Romero joined the Rockies on Saturday, took a physical and is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Sunday. He could be activated by Monday.

Romero, 35, who is 33-28 with a 4.07 ERA in 652 games over 13 seasons, said former Rockies pitcher LaTroy Hawkins, now with the Brewers, told him the Rockies would be a good team for him.

"This is a great opportunity for me," Romero said. "This is a good team. I've been beaten by this team before, so I joined them. Looking at these guys from the other side, they always have an amazing September."

Romero was 0-4 with a 3.86 ERA in 24 games this season with the Phillies. He said a lack of regular work -- an unintended consequence of having arguably baseball's best rotation -- could have hurt him.

"I barely pitched, because over there they had a deep rotation," Romero said. "I'm the type of guy that needs repetition. I enjoyed my time there, but it was time for me to move on and accept new challenges."

Rockies ready for Nelson to step up

St. LOUIS -- Rockies infielder Chris Nelson has turned in consistently strong defensive performances at second base and third base since being recalled from Triple-A on July 27. Now he must prove himself with the bat.

Nelson, a former top Draft choice, debuted in the Majors last year and has been called up twice from Triple-A Colorado Springs this season. Now, with former third-base starter Ian Stewart back in Triple-A for a third time trying to work out severe hitting difficulties, the Rockies are taking a long look at Nelson.

But questions remain offensively. Nelson entered Saturday night's start at third base against the Cardinals hitting .230 with two home runs and nine RBIs in 126 at-bats. At Colorado Springs, he hit .341 with nine home runs, 59 RBIs, 18 doubles and five triples. How his hitting translates will determine whether he can be a regular in the Majors.

Rockies manager Jim Tracy said Nelson has the ability to put the ball in play, and can enhance that by becoming a better situational hitter. But correcting one mechanical flaw could make him a more dangerous hitter.

"He has a tendency to hang on his back side a little bit longer than you'd like to see," Tracy said. "As a result of that, hitting that ball that's belt line across, out away from him, he handles that very well. But as the ball starts to get closer and closer to him, certain things come into question. If you don't get off of your back side, in essence, you're allowing the ball to travel for a longer period of time. When you're getting closer to the body line, that's the one thing you can ill afford to do.

"Is that a hurdle that he can overcome? There's no question about that. I guarantee you that when he tries to incorporate that, it will feel different to him."

With Stewart's Rockies future in doubt, there could be an opening at third, but the team could seek a veteran power hitter during the offseason. The Rockies like Nelson at second but are interested in re-signing Mark Ellis, who has impressed the club since arriving in a trade with the Athletics, but Nelson's versatility is on his side.

"I don't think it hurts at all for anybody to say, 'He can field two positions adequately well -- better than that, and in a pinch he can play shortstop,'" Tracy said. "That can be an asset for you."