DENVER -- Returning the rejuvenated Dexter Fowler to the leadoff spot in the Rockies' batting order has allowed second baseman Marco Scutaro to use his patience and bat-handling skills in the No. 2 spot in the order.Scutaro, hitting .247 with a .305 on-base percentage, doesn't care where he hits, since he has swung from various slots during an 11-year career. But he sees where it makes sense to hit behind Fowler. "Hopefully it works out better," Scutaro said. "If Fowler keeps swinging the bat the way he has lately and uses his speed, it could make a difference. "Overall we've been swinging the bat OK. It's hard to get everybody hot at the same time, but the main thing is getting everyone consistent. We have a good lineup. Hitting is a feeling that can change real quick, good and bad, but what I like the best is we've got guys here who give good at-bats." Fowler first and Scutaro second was the Rockies' original plan when they acquired Scutaro, 36, from the Red Sox for pitcher Clayton Mortensen during the offseason. But Fowler struggled in Spring Training and found himself hitting second and eighth until he found his stroke. Rockies manager Jim Tracy said Fowler could be a key to a lineup that already is productive. The Rockies entered Wednesday night's game against the Astros second in the National League with a team .755 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) and third in runs with 239. "We're a different team with him doing that," Tracy said. "Can he be that consistent guy? Sure he can. I've said that to the point of criticism a number of times."
Ottavino making most of opportunity
DENVER -- Adam Ottavino pitched an inning in each game of Monday's doubleheader against the Astros, nearly a fourth of his season total.It sounds small, but for someone who has spent the better part of his pro career in the Minors, it's a sign things are looking up. "I'm glad to be somewhere where I have an opportunity," said Ottavino. Upon being claimed off waivers from the Cardinals in early April, Ottavino split time between the Rockies and Triple-A Colorado Springs. In nine outings (9 1/3 innings) with the Rockies, the right-hander has struck out 10 batters, with three multiple-strikeout games.
The first run Ottavino yielded this season came against Houston, which snapped his 7 1/3 scoreless inning streak. Five of his outings have been hitless, and he's holding opponents to a .219 batting average, third-lowest on the team."My breaking balls have been pretty effective this year," said Ottavino, who features a 12-6 curveball and a slider. "The good thing is, I can throw those pitches a variety of ways so it's not a pitch that's the same every time a batter sees it. That allows me to have success." In the offseason, after St. Louis won the World Series, Ottavino figured his time as a Cardinal was finally up. Ottavino had only pitched in five games for the club, and that was in 2010; he had spent the entire 2011 championship season in Triple-A Memphis. "I was told I'd have a chance in St. Louis, so I kept trying to make the team and impress them," Ottavino said. "When I did get removed from the roster this spring, I was happy about it. I was somewhat relieved that I'd get another chance somewhere else." Ottavino has fit in nicely with the Rockies, who hope he can serve as a piece of the bridge between a starting rotation that has struggled pitching deep into games and closer Rafael Betancourt, who is tied for eighth in the National League with nine saves.
There are still some consistency issues to iron out. A tidy microcosm of his skill set would be a May 21 game against the Marlins, in which he allowed two hits, walked one batter and struck out three in just one inning. But so far he's been much more reliable than Esmil Rogers, who has a 8.18 ERA in 22 innings."I'm just trying to answer the bell when they call my name," Ottavino said. "My job is to go out there, throw zeroes and get out the guy standing in front of me."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. Trey Scott This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.