SAN DIEGO -- It is possible to be too healthy. Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa believes that's part of the problem in his first three starts.
"That's true ... 100 percent," De La Rosa said. "I never felt the way I feel right now, stronger than ever."
Last season, De La Rosa was healthy enough to pitch a full season after being affected for two years by an elbow injury, but his arm hadn't returned to full strength. So, De La Rosa used guile rather than power and went 16-6 with a 3.49 ERA in 30 starts. But it wasn't until the end of the season that he could push his fastball to 94 mph.
This year, De La Rosa (0-2, 9.69 ERA in three starts) is registering 95 mph and averaging 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings, and at times, he's looked dominant. But he's also giving up 8.3 hits per nine and has surrendered three home runs. It took him all last season to give up 11 homers.
De La Rosa might have to try using a softer touch Wednesday night, when he makes his next start against the Padres at Petco Park.
"I started pitching more," De La Rosa said, recalling the good ol' weak-armed days of last year. "I didn't have my fastball last year. I just relied on location. That's what I did last year. This year I've thrown harder because of the way I feel. I'm going to check my video from last year and start pitching."
Overcoming his slump soon is an important issue for the Rockies. The bullpen has thrown 43 2/3 innings in the first 13 games this season. The only National League club with more bullpen innings in the same number of games was the Dodgers with 48.
The current rotation is without lefty Brett Anderson, who suffered a broken left index finger Saturday, and it'll take 4-6 weeks to heal from surgery and time after that to build up for a return. Righty Jhoulys Chacin hasn't pitched for the club yet because of a right shoulder strain he suffered at the start of Spring Training, although he should be back at the end of this month or early May.
It's a bad time for a pitcher of De La Rosa's ilk to slump.
"No matter who's in the rotation, I have to do my job to try to win the game for these guys," he said. "Nothing's going to change that."
Rockies manager Walt Weiss said, "He was one of the best pitchers in the National League last year. That's why I have confidence he can turn this around.
"It's gotten away from him quickly, but if not in all of the starts, in two of the three he was dominant up until he had the rough inning."
Hot-hitting Blackmon gets start against lefty
SAN DIEGO -- A .488 batting average going into Monday night is reason enough for Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon to be confident, but he received an extra boost when manager Walt Weiss started him against Padres lefty Eric Stults.
It was Blackmon's second time in the lineup against a lefty starter. Weiss put him in against the D-backs' Wade Miley the night after he went 6-for-6 in the home opener, and Blackmon responded by going 3-for-4. However, against the White Sox's Jose Quintana and the Giants' Madison Bumgarner, Weiss went with a right-handed lineup featuring outfielders Drew Stubbs and Brandon Barnes.
"I think it's a big deal because that's what everyday players do," said Blackmon, who doubled to right field off Stults to open the game Monday. "You've obviously got to get over that hump to be that type of player. But also, I have a lot of good history against left-handed pitchers. That isn't something to take for granted as a left-handed hitter."
In 164 career games going into Monday, Blackmon has a .331 average against lefties and .299 against righties. Granted, he has far more plate appearances against righties -- 395, to 130 against lefties -- but the early part of his career has shown him to be platoon-proof.
"I don't look at it as just a strict platoon with some of our left-handed guys, particularly Blackmon and [Justin] Morneau," Weiss said. "I look at the type of left-hander. I look at the matchup. At the same time, I want to get the guys some starts, the right-handed hitters. I take a few things into consideration.
"Charlie is obviously swinging the bat really well. He's hit left-handers well in his career. So a number of things played into it. But the bottom line is he's one of the hottest hitters in the National League."
Even with the numbers on his side, Blackmon could only watch Sunday when Weiss subbed Stubbs for him for a key eighth-inning at-bat against Giants lefty specialist Javier Lopez. Weiss' decision worked, because Stubbs delivered an RBI single to tie the game, which the Giants won, 5-4, in 10 innings.
"I understand the move," Blackmon said. "I always want to be the guy we want to have up at the plate. But we needed that run and we were able to score, so we accomplished the objective. We were one step closer to getting a win for that reason."
Dickerson recalled to provide depth on bench
SAN DIEGO -- With the opportunities being intermittent for players on the bubble of the Rockies' roster, Corey Dickerson wasn't going to let something like a blizzard keep him from reaching Denver International Airport to join the club in San Diego for Monday night's game against the Padres.
Dickerson, 24, made the Opening Day roster and went 1-for-5 in three games before being optioned to Colorado Springs on April 7. He hit .385 with a double and a triple in three Triple-A games.
The roster spot opened when lefty starter Brett Anderson went on the 15-day disabled list with a broken left index finger. The Rockies are going back and forth between having an extra position player or pitcher, and they have sent down Dickerson and infielder Charlie Culberson (on Sunday) to get regular at-bats until the Rockies need them.
With left-handed-hitting center fielder Charlie Blackmon hot to start the year, it appears Dickerson's role will be as a lefty bat off the bench. But Dickerson knows to be ready for anything.
"For sure, you've got to look at the season and how long it is," said Dickerson, who was informed of his callup at 12:30 a.m. and made plans to drive through the snow for his opportunity Monday. "It's such a long season, so many injuries happen and what they need for the roster. Your goal is to stay up here and produce and help the team win.
"I want to do that to the best of my ability. And if I get sent down, I'm going to help that team. Hopefully, my job now is to help this team."
Pin procedure to boost Anderson's recovery
SAN DIEGO -- Rockies left-hander Brett Anderson most likely will have surgery Thursday to place tiny pins in his broken left index finger to promote faster healing.
Anderson (0-2, 3.60 ERA), who suffered the injury while batting against the Giants' Matt Cain in the fourth inning of Saturday's 1-0 Rockies victory, is expected to need 4-6 weeks to heal, but there isn't a timetable on when he'll return to the mound.
The pins, which will be removed in a couple of weeks, help realign the fracture and allow Anderson the opportunity to move the finger as part of the rehab process, said Rockies head athletic trainer Keith Dugger, who said the pins were more like needles.
"If we went conservative, without the pins, he would have been in the splint the whole time," Dugger said.
Rockies manager Walt Weiss said, "It sounds like it's worse when they talk about putting a couple of pins in there, but actually it may help him get back a little bit quicker."
Lefty Franklin Morales (0-1, 6.39 ERA in three games, two starts) will slide into Anderson's rotation spot. Morales started in the rotation but was moved to the bullpen last week to accommodate right-hander Jordan Lyles. However, Anderson's injury kept Morales' stay in the bullpen a short one.
"That's why Frankie is valuable to us, he can do a number of things," Weiss said. "He's shown that he can start. We knew he wanted to start. He felt it was an opportunity when he came over here. I have no problem with him making starts for this club."
On Monday, the club placed Anderson on the 15-day disabled list and recalled left-handed-hitting outfielder Corey Dickerson from Triple-A Colorado Springs.