DENVER -- It's never good to have a star player like Troy Tulowitzki go on the 15-day disabled list. But if it has to happen, the Rockies can take advantage of Michael Cuddyer's recent hot streak by installing him as cleanup hitter.The veteran right fielder battled through a rough middle of May, going 3-for-17 as the Rockies lost five of six in a May 16-20 homestand. But since then, Cuddyer has been better: His .304 batting average and nine RBIs the last eight games have helped the club to a 4-4 record. "Baseball is very cyclical," Cuddyer said. "You're going to go through weeks where you're the worst player in the world and weeks where you're the best player. That's just the way it is." Cuddyer -- who spent his first 11 seasons in Minnesota -- entered Thursday with 1,059 career at-bats in the No. 4 hole, second only to his appearances in the fifth spot (1,277). His career slash line at cleanup is .279/.351/.478, with 182 RBIs. "No matter where you're hitting, you just hope you're productive," Cuddyer said. "If guys are on base, you try to knock them in. If they're not, then you try to get on base."
Fowler brimming with confidence in hot streak
DENVER -- Dexter Fowler is playing the best baseball of his life. A quick look at his last three box scores says as much.In two games on May 28 and another May 30, all against the Astros, Fowler has nine hits, two home runs and six RBIs -- the best three-game span of his career. "I'm just believing in myself a little bit more," Fowler said. "I have some confidence and some experience. All that together makes for a good streak." Fowler has twice achieved the homer feat: He had two in a Sept. 5, 2011, game and hit a pair in a span from April 8-12 in 2008. He has also reached the nine-hit mark before, doing so Sept. 3-5, 2011. But Fowler has never done all that in three games while driving in so many runners. The second game of Monday's doubleheader was the highlight: Fowler recorded his second career walk-off hit, had a triple and a home run in the same game, which he's only done twice, and also had the second four-hit game of his career. Most surprising has been the power surge. Through his first four seasons, Fowler had never hit more than six. It's taken him 46 games to hit eight so far. Fowler credits an offseason of hard work for the uptick, as well as his desire to mimic his center-field contemporaries; Matt Kemp, Adam Jones and Andrew McCutchen were all drafted within a year of Fowler, and none of them has ever had a problem putting the ball in the seats. "I do want to be like those guys in that regard," Fowler said. "I always had the power in me, I just had to get to know my swing and better utilize my strength."
Eager for start, Outman tips cap to Moyer
DENVER -- From the waist down, the Rockies' starter on Friday against the Dodgers won't look too different atop the mound. After all, Jamie Moyer and Josh Outman both rock the stirrup socks. But once the ball is in the air, there couldn't be a bigger contrast."I say this with respect, but I'd like to think my velocity is a little better than Jamie's," said Outman, who gets his first crack at a starting job with the Wednesday announcement that the 49-year-old Moyer would be designated for assignment. "His game was what it was for him. He located the ball so well, made hitters hit the ball how he wanted them to hit it. I'm not as finesse; I try to go after hitters and make them put the ball in play." Despite the difference of about 16 mph in velocity, Outman has learned quite a bit from his predecessor. In Philadelphia, when Outman was working his way through the low Minors and Moyer was holding down a starting spot for the Phillies, the two worked on pitching inside and pitching to contact. Outman, fresh out of the University of Central Missouri, was still wary of the aluminum bats that turned pop flies into fence-clearing home runs. "He definitely taught me a lot," Outman said. "Not only those lessons -- not shying away from contact and keeping the ball in -- but also watching how he went about his business." Outman began the year on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique, suffered while vomiting during a bout with food poisoning. He went 0-0 with a 1.29 ERA in six Minor League rehab appearances before being activated on May 11.
Outman made 25 starts in three years for the Athletics, compiling a 8-7 record. Coors Field will offer a much more different -- and dangerous -- environment than that of the comfortable confines of the O.co Coliseum, but the left-handed Outman is confident his gameplan will work nonetheless."There's really only so many things I can control," Outman said. "If I start worrying about the size of the ballpark or how thin the air is, the more mistakes I'd likely make. I'll stick with the gameplan I always use: keep the ball down in the zone and let the fielders do the work." He'll only have 45-50 pitches to showcase his stuff, though. Outman has been used as a reliever this season and Rockies manager Jim Tracy wants him to stretch his arm out gradually. "I'm still approaching it as I would a full start," Outman said. "Starters have several jobs and one of them is leaving the bullpen half of the plate. I'm going to try not to throw the full kitchen sink at the Dodgers -- I'm going to throw my 50 pitches how I'd throw my first 50 pitches anyway."
Trey Scott is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.