DENVER -- Even as they put right-hander Tyler Chatwood in the bullpen to start this season, the Rockies planned on him eventually becoming a member of their rotation. The plan sped up Tuesday, when the Rockies sent Chatwood to Triple-A Colorado Springs to work as a starter.Chatwood, at 22 the youngest player on the season-opening roster, went 1-0 with a 5.63 ERA in four relief appearances covering eight innings. He went three innings and gave up one run in earning a save against the Giants on April 11. The Rockies replaced Chatwood with hard-throwing right-hander Edgmer Escalona, who was 2-0 with two saves in five scoreless innings over four appearances at Colorado Springs. Escalona, 25, has appeared in 19 Major League games over the last two seasons and has a 1.71 ERA. Chatwood made 25 starts and two relief appearances last year with the Angels after injuries forced him into the rotation. The Rockies, who acquired Chatwood for catcher Chris Iannetta over the winter, thought he could be a successful starter, but his inconsistency in Spring Training prevented him from winning a rotation spot. Now, after seeing Chatwood face Major League hitters, manager Jim Tracy said he has a good idea of what improvements he needs to complete his development. Working as a starter, with the between-starts work, can help him make them. Chatwood will start for Colorado Springs on Monday at Las Vegas. "With the delivery things we're trying to work out with him, in the bullpen we're not going to have enough time or the proper type of time," Tracy said. "With this arm, at the age that he's at, it's important that we take special care of that. "In the long run, this is going to work out extremely well. I have every reason to believe that during the course of this six-month journey we're on that Tyler Chatwood is going to resurface and do some special things for this club." The club needs better work from its starters, who have lasted as many as seven innings in just three of their 10 starts. The Rockies went into the season believing they could bring along a young starter in the bullpen, much the way pitchers such as Dan Haren, Johan Santana and Adam Wainwright were handled early in their careers. The work gave Tracy enough information to know exactly what Chatwood needs to correct. "It's a timing issue as far as his delivery is concerned, making sure his balance and [hand] separation are on time together," Tracy said. "This is a fixable thing, and the way you fix it quicker is to get him regular work, a regimented program, a start every fifth day and bullpen sessions between starts." Chatwood welcomed the decision. "Of course I'd rather be helping the team up there, but it's a good opportunity to get back to my routine as a starter," Chatwood said.
Rockies struggling to hit left-handers
DENVER -- The Rockies insist they don't fear opposing left-handed starting pitchers, but the numbers are frightful. They've managed two earned runs in 29 1/3 innings and are 1-3 in those games.The Rockies' next chance against a lefty is Wednesday night, when they face the Padres' Clayton Richard in hopes that they are stronger than they were against Cory Luebke in a 7-1 loss to the Padres on Monday night. Several key right-handed hitters have poor numbers against lefties overall, starters and relievers. Leadoff man Marco Scutaro entered Tuesday 3-for-16 (.188), switch-hitter Dexter Fowler also was 3-for-16 and Troy Tulowitzki was 3-for-15 (.200). Ramon Hernandez and Michael Cuddyer have respectable numbers against either but actually are doing better against righties. Because Scutaro has had good at-bats and bad luck, Fowler has generally hit well from the right side and Tulowitzki is generally a slow starter, the Rockies are not panicking. "It's early in the season and we've got too many good right-handed hitters, although I did challenge our right-handed hitters yesterday before the game to get on these left-handed starters," Rockies hitting coach Carney Lansford said. "I don't know what it is, to be honest. I wish I had the answers. But they'll get it together. "We're 10 games into the season and we've got 152 to go. I don't like seeing trends like that, whether it's right-handed pitchers or left-handed pitchers. With the talent we have, we should get on all those guys." Left-handed-hitting Carlos Gonzalez and Todd Helton each entered Tuesday's start against righty Anthony Bass hitting better than .400 against right-handers and under .200 against lefties. If either of them were doing better left-on-left, the team's overall numbers might be better. But that's a tall order against some of the quality lefties who have started against the Rockies. "Things are not going the way we expect," said Gonzalez, who returned to the lineup Tuesday after missing three games with strep throat. "For us, me and Helton, we're going to battle and we expect to be able to hit lefties, but at the same time, we expect the righties to take those guys out of the game. It's just the way they expect us to pound the right-handers. It's early. We've got to be able to create some momentum." The Rockies' best hitter against lefties has been left-handed hitting Tyler Colvin, at 3-for-7 (.429) going into Tuesday's game. The sample size has been small, the opposing pitchers have been good, and factors beyond the opposing pitcher are involved. "[The Giants'] Barry Zito was exceptional when he faced us," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "The kid last night [Luebke] didn't live over the middle of the plate at all. [The Giants'] Madison Bumgarner is going to be one of the more elite left-handed starters in the industry as he goes along. He's of the ripe, old age of 22. We've faced some very good left-handed pitching. "What also will help it is the manner in which the game unfolds next time we face one. Hopefully, we'll have a start to the game where we look up and by the time our seven-hole hitter is up we're leading by four."
CarGo back in the Rockies' lineup
DENVER -- As Rockies manager Jim Tracy left Coors Field on Monday night, he was doubtful that Tuesday night's lineup would include left fielder Carlos Gonzalez, who was in the final stages of recovery from a case of strep throat that had kept him out of the lineup since Friday."We talked about it last night, how I wanted to be in there, so they were waiting on my call in the morning," Gonzalez said. "So I called and told him I was ready to play. "I was getting better day by day. I can't wait to get on the field and be ready to play." Gonzalez returned to his customary No. 3 position in the order against the Padres and right-handed starter Anthony Bass. Tracy said, "He was available to do some things last night, but we stayed away from it. We wanted him to be feeling 100 percent rather than just 85 or 70 or 75, then run him back into the ground."
Rockies catcher Ramon Hernandez did not start Tuesday because of pain in his left hand, which he felt on an awkward swing during Monday night's 7-1 loss to the Padres. Rookie Wilin Rosario started. The Rockies will select 10th overall in the first round and 46th overall as a compensation pick for losing second baseman Mark Ellis to the Dodgers, according to MLB, which announced its order for all 40 rounds of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft on June 4 at 5 p.m. MT. The Rockies also will pick 73rd and 105th before taking the final pick of Compensation Round B for not signing Peter O'Brien in the 2011 Draft. The Rockies will pick 10th in each round 4-40.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.