DENVER -- When manager Walt Weiss took a look at the Rockies' upcoming schedule, he knew he needed to map out a plan for his team's long-term future.
Before the Rockies played the Astros in game six of a grueling stretch of 17 games in as many days, Weiss decided to call right-handed reliever Rob Scahill back up to the big leagues. Scahill, 25, has already appeared in two games this year, and will attempt to extend his streak of 5 1/3 scoreless innings.
Weiss knew he needed to bring on a 13th pitcher to make sure his pitching staff had the endurance for this stretch.
"Our philosophy was before the season started, when in doubt, we need to protect our pitching and this is one of those times," Weiss said. "It's one of those times in the schedule and in the season where our bullpen's been taxed."
The starting pitcher has lasted six innings or fewer in three of the Rockies' last five games, forcing the Rockies' coaching staff to dig deep into its bullpen. Such heavy use of relievers, along with the tall order of games that lies ahead, convinced the first-year manager to make the move Wednesday.
Though Weiss declined to say how long he expects the righty to stay in the big league clubhouse, Scahill has shown promise. In 2012, Scahill pitched 8 2/3 innings over six games and finished his rookie campaign with a 1.04 ERA.
Scahill will likely be used out of the bullpen to face multiple hitters, rather than face just one or two batters in an appearance.
"He's been real good at pitching to the bottom of the [strike] zone, his stuff has never been a question," Weiss said. "Sometimes his command will get away from him, you see the big misses up. We haven't seen that, I think he's taking some major strides. He's always been a great competitor, and now he's got the command to go along with his makeup and his stuff."
Fowler happy about baseball's Olympic chances
DENVER -- Wednesday brought a small but significant victory for baseball fans when the International Olympic Committee announced baseball is among three finalists for the one sport that will be either introduced or returned at the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Baseball and softball -- which both made their final Olympic appearance at the Beijing Games -- are together vying for a return to the international stage in seven years. The sports are making a joint bid to rejoin Olympic play. Other sports being considered are wrestling and squash.
One of the 24 members of the United States' last Olympic squad in 2008 was Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler. After knocking in two runs and collecting seven hits for Team USA, he went on to make his big league debut just weeks after returning from Beijing.
"It was awesome," Fowler said. "Playing for your country and to be out there representing your country. We ended up getting a bronze medal, which was awesome."
Though Major League stars usually can't participate in the Summer Games because they take place during one of the most important stretches of the season. It gives Minor League and college stars the chance to see how their game stacks up against top international competition.
What separates baseball from other sports, in Fowler's eyes, is the international appeal of a game with deep roots not just in the Caribbean and South America but also across Asia.
As a 22-year-old Minor Leaguer, Fowler cherished the opportunity to participate in the opening ceremony and meet other athletes representing the red, white and blue. It is something he hopes future ballplayers have the chance to experience.
"It's one of America's sports, and it's getting to be huge," Fowler said. "You got the World Baseball Classic and all that now, which is cool, but I think [baseball] should be in the Olympics."
Blackmon optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs
DENVER -- Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon felt the decision to option him to Triple-A Colorado Springs on Wednesday might have been much tougher had he performed better during his 12-game trial. The Rockies recalled pitcher Rob Scahill to fill his spot on the roster.
Manager Walt Weiss had a strategic reason. Bullpen usage has been heavy, and the Rockies are in the midst of games on 17 straight days. But Blackmon hit .240 with one home run and two RBIs. He also committed an error.
Weiss praised Blackmon's physical tools. The challenge for Blackmon is to regain the stroke he might have lost in sporadic Major League time and be ready for the next call. Scahill gives the Rockies 13 pitchers, but Weiss could go back to 12 at any time.
"I got here and played right away, started three games in a row, so it's not like they didn't give me an opportunity," said Blackmon, whose stints in the Majors in 2011 and 2012 were abbreviated by right foot injuries. "I'm sure if I'd done a better job with that chance, I'd have played much more.
"I think I showed them that I have the ability to play good defense, but I don't think I played very well out there. There were a couple of plays I could've made that I didn't make. I've been there before. I'll go to Colorado Springs and try to do the best I can."
"Charlie is a well-rounded player, a really good athlete," Weiss said. "It looks like he's running as well as he has in a long time. He's a good defender. It's just a matter of him going down there, getting everyday at-bats and doing his thing again."
Recovering Francis hit with ball in rehab start
DENVER -- Left-hander Jeff Francis' rehab from a left groin strain hit a snag Tuesday, when he was hit on the front of his left ankle during a rehab start in extended spring training.
Francis had thrown 45 pitches and was 3 1/3 innings through a scheduled six against a Giants squad when he was hit. Francis said the evaluation went fine Wednesday, and hoped it would not delay is route back to the Majors.
"It was fine until I took a line drive off my leg -- it's fine, it's just bruised," said Francis, who is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list Thursday, but will need to heal and make some rehab starts before being activated. "I don't think it'll keep me out.
"But when I was pitching, I felt like myself and was able to move around. I felt normal. I'll throw my bullpen as soon as I can and see what happens."
With lefties coming up, Helton may see less time
DENVER -- First baseman Todd Helton's batting average is down to .217 and his playing time could become sporadic given the fact the Rockies could run into a number of left-handers in the next few games.
For example, Helton sat and Jordan Pacheco started Wednesday night against the Astros' Erik Bedard. The Dodgers will use Clayton Kershaw on Friday night and Hyun-Jin Ryu on Sunday afternoon.
Even with the inconsistent playing time, manager Walt Weiss believes Helton can turn things around.
"He can still hit," Weiss said. "I wasn't worried about him early, and I still believe that he's going to be productive for us.
"They're both going to get plenty of at-bats."
• Former star quarterback Archie Manning visited the Rockies' clubhouse with his grandchildren. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, a football teammate of Rockies first baseman Todd Helton at Tennessee, also has been a visitor on occasion.
• Entering Wednesday night, Rockies outfielders led Major League outfields in OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) at .887 and extra-base hits with 75 -- 10 more than the team with the next-most extra-base hits, the Angels with 65.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. Ian McCue is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.