DENVER -- Center fielder Dexter Fowler started the season so slowly that the Rockies kept him away from the top of the batting order. Now few leadoff hitters can match his performance.Fowler's .394 on-base percentage in 55 games in the leadoff spot going into Tuesday night's game against the Giants was surpassed only by the .409 of the Cardinals' Jon Jay. However, Jay had been leadoff man in just 32 contests. The Angels' Mike Trout nearly matched Fowler, with .393 in 117 games at the top of the order. Fowler has a career-high 13 homers and 41 extra-base hits, and his .902 on-base plus slugging percentage is tops among National League leadoff men. Fowler's overall on-base percentage of .394 -- in 128 games, at any spot in the order -- also ranked fourth in the NL among players qualified for the batting title. With Fowler adjusting to a new swing and a new body after an intense offseason training program with teammates Troy Tulowitzki and Jason Giambi, it made sense that he would struggle through Spring Training and the early going. But the swing came back in late May, and Fowler became the regular leadoff man. There was a period where injuries to other key players forced manager Jim Tracy to use the switch-hitting Fowler in the No. 3 spot. At the time of his struggles, there were calls from fans and media to remove him from the lineup entirely. Tracy also started Tyler Colvin in center briefly. But Fowler never lost confidence. "I always know it's a process -- that's exactly what it is," Fowler said. "You've just got to keep moving forward, but what doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Possibly the most impressive part of Fowler's season has been how he has rebounded from a right ankle sprain that didn't force him to the disabled list but limited him to pinch-hit duty for the final week of August. In his first nine games since returning to the lineup, Fowler hit .333 with a .400 on-base percentage, three doubles and a home run. "I believe a lot of it is mental," Fowler said. "You've got to ask the trainers, 'Is it going to get worse?' If they say it's just going to hurt, you've got to go with it. Just keep treating it and hope it gets better."
Rockies recognize heroes during 9/11 ceremony
DENVER -- The Rockies commemorated the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. by honoring law enforcement, emergency response and military personnel during ceremonies before a game against the Giants at Coors Field.The occasion was observed with a celebration of patriotism. Also, the Rockies presented a check for $80,799.30 that the club collected from fans on June 29 and 30 for its Fire Relief Fund to help those who were victims of the many wildfires that affected the state of Colorado. Rockies owner and CEO Dick Monfort presented the check on the field. The club recognized 14-year Denver police officer Eric Denke, a recipient of his department's Distinguished Service Cross; Denver firefighter David Perez, founder of the Denver Firefighters Veterans Initiative and the Colorado Fallen Veterans Foundation; and 15 members of the U.S. Army Special Forces from Fort Carson as military heroes. The Littleton Fire Color Guard presented the colors, and before the national anthem, a large flag was supported by Air Force Academy cadets, including members of the Air Force Academy baseball team; about 45 members of the U.S. Navy Recruiting District; and individual active and veteran military, police and fire personnel and paramedics. After a moment of silence in honor of those who died in their duties, "The Star Spangled Banner" was performed by the United States Air Force Academy group Stellar Brass. The special-guest ceremonial first pitch was delivered by the family of fallen Englewood, Colo., police detective Jeremy Bitner, who was killed in an automobile accident in May. Bitner's wife, Tina, and children, Anabelle and Ascher Bitner, participated in the ceremony.
De La Rosa has solid Minor League outing
DENVER -- The Rockies received a positive report from left-handed pitcher Jorge De La Rosa's three innings Monday night for Modesto in a Class A California League playoff game.De La Rosa, completing his comeback from Tommy John elbow surgery last June, held Bakersfield to one run, on a home run, and three hits, while striking out five in Modesto's 12-1 victory. The Rockies hope De La Rosa, whose quality and veteran leadership have been missed this season, can appear in a Major League game before season's end. It's not clear what De La Rosa's next step will be. Modesto trails in its playoff series and will have to stay alive for De La Rosa to have a chance to pitch there. Class A Asheville is the only other Rockies affiliate participating in playoffs. "If there's opportunity to pitch out there [in the Minors], it's safe to say we would consider that; if not, we would have to formulate a little bit different plan," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. De La Rosa returned to Denver on Tuesday to work out and be evaluated by the Rockies' training staff.
Rockies turn to Rosario after Hernandez's injury
DENVER -- Results were not immediately available from an MRI on the left hamstring of Rockies catcher Ramon Hernandez, who had to leave Monday night's game. However, the injury did not look good as Hernandez was being led off the field by the Rockies' training staff."I didn't like the gait, I can tell you that," manager Jim Tracy said. Hernandez was starting because of rookie Willin Rosario's recent defensive struggles, which included five passed balls in two games. After replacing Hernandez, Rosario let a blockable Guillermo Moscoso breaking ball squirt between his feet for a wild pitch. Tracy said Monday that Rosario's passed balls were unacceptable. On Tuesday, Tracy expressed faith in Rosario. "He's making strides," Tracy said. "I'm a big fan of this kid. All I have to do is watch the effort that he gives every day, know that he wants to learn, know how I've sat here over the last three-plus years and taken some beatings because of Dexter Fowler, 'Why is he hitting left-handed?' and 'How much longer are you going to play Carlos Gonzalez?' Those windows take a little time. You have to have the patience and the courage to endure the lapses that are going to come along with it. "This is another case that I really believe we will finish this project. He may make a liar out of me. So what? I don't think he will, just like I didn't think Fowler would and I didn't think Gonzalez would." First baseman-third baseman Jordan Pacheco and recent callup Matt McBride, who plays first and in the outfield, have caught some this season and will be Rosario's backups.
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.