DENVER -- Outfielder-first baseman Michael Cuddyer's batting average took a tumble at the same time as the Rockies' record, but his reaction turns out to be a blueprint for teammates who deal with the inevitable tough times.Cuddyer had a .287 batting average through June 2, but between then and June 28 he hit .190 and had a .227 on-base percentage. Of course, the Rockies went 9-18 in June. An injured and ineffective pitching staff had more to do with the team's struggles than any one hitter, but having Cuddyer slump while veteran first baseman Todd Helton saw his numbers dramatically decline as he played through injury didn't help. The Rockies signed Cuddyer, 31, to a three-year, $31.5 million contract partly to serve as an example for younger players. The intention was for him to be an example of success. But if he's going to slump, he might as well demonstrate how to handle it properly. "The hits I was getting were extra-base hits, and I was still driving in runs, still producing," Cuddyer said. "That's what I try to do, take one thing, whether it's a hit, a run, a walk or an RBI. If I can take one of those away from a game, I find that game as a success, especially if we win." During that rough stretch, nine of his 16 hits were for extra bases -- four home runs and five doubles. Cuddyer has done much better in the batting average department, having hit .353 between June 29 and Friday night, with five of his 12 hits going for extra bases -- three doubles, a triple and a home run. Cuddyer's 50 RBIs at the All-Star break represented a career high, and he added another Friday in the first post-break game.
Helton feels better after cortisone shot
DENVER -- Rockies first baseman Todd Helton said Saturday he had improved greatly after receiving a cortisone shot in his inflamed right hip on Friday.Helton, 38, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday, will begin exercising Sunday and work his way toward baseball activities. "I felt a whole lot better as soon as I had it," Helton said Saturday. Helton entered the year with back problems, but the hip issues in recent weeks have affected the leg kick going into his swing. Helton, who has spent most of his career above the .300 mark, hit .235 before the break this season.
Shortstop Josh Rutledge went 2-for-2 with two RBIs on Friday for the Rockies in his Major League debut, a 6-2 victory over the Phillies. Rutledge became the second Rockies player in the team's 20 seasons to go at least 2-for-2 with two RBIs in his debut. The first was Derrick Gibson, who went 4-for-4 with two RBIs on Sept. 9, 1998. Rockies manager Jim Tracy said he is looking to use right-hander Adam Ottavino (2-0, 4.82 ERA) as a bridge between the starter and the late-inning bullpen. Starters are working with limited pitch counts in the club's four-man rotation, so relievers are needed to sometimes pitch multiple innings before the seventh. Tracy is intrigued by Ottavino's velocity, but he needs to improve his strike-throwing consistency. He has 35 strikeouts to 13 walks, but when he has missed, he has landed in trouble.
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.