06/24/07 3:20 PM ET
Notes: Hirsh to stay in rotation
Despite consecutive rough outings, righty to make next start
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
Hirsh's starting spot had been put in jeopardy after back-to-back rough outings, but he is likely to make his next scheduled start against the Cubs on Wednesday.
Rockies manager Clint Hurdle sat down with his 25-year-old right-hander to voice some concerns he had about Hirsh's recent performances and to also let him know Colorado didn't plan on making any immediate changes to the starting rotation.
"We just had a conversation," Hurdle said. "I highlighted a lot of my personal opinions. I wanted him to hear it from me -- not the pitching coach -- about what I felt like he needed to put in play."
Hirsh was acquired along with center fielder Willy Taveras in a deal that sent right-handed pitcher Jason Jennings to the Astros. There's been times this season where Hirsh has shown flashes of brilliance. He hasn't won since June 10, when he went the distance against the Orioles and allowed only one run.
Hirsh's last two starts, though, haven't been nearly as impressive. He has allowed 10 runs over his last 8 2/3 innings but has been bailed out by the Rockies' offense each time, and as a result, he just has two no-decisions to show for it.
Hurdle doesn't think Hirsh has shown enough aggressiveness on the mound.
"For me, I just want to see a guy, if he's 6-foot-6 pitch like he's 6-foot-6," Hurdle said. "He needs to have a presence and needs to have an identity and just follow through with it."
One thing that has created so many problems for Hirsh has been his lack of control on the mound. He's walked seven batters over his last two starts, and 37 on the year, which entering Sunday's action was the 15th most in the National League. When he gets the ball over the plate, it's a different story; opponents are hitting .253 against the second-year righty.
"He's got the best average against of any starting pitcher on our staff," Hurdle said. "He's got the most home runs and the most walks, so if you look into those numbers, when he throws the ball over the plate, he's getting outs."
While Hirsh will make his next scheduled start against the Cubs, Hurdle wasn't about to give him a vote of confidence for an indefinite period of time.
"I told him there's no promises," Hurdle said. "He needs to start pitching."
Two in a row for Baker: Rockies utilityman Jeff Baker was in the starting lineup again on Sunday afternoon. It's the first time since June 2-3 that the 26-year-old has been in the starting nine on back-to-back days.
On Saturday, Baker got the start at first base so Todd Helton could receive a day off in the field, and on Sunday, Baker took over the designated hitter spot.
Hurdle has been trying to find some regular at-bats for Baker this season, but because of the way his offense has been swinging the bats, it hasn't been easy. Left fielder Matt Holliday, right fielder Brad Hawpe, and third baseman Garrett Atkins have all been playing so well recently that giving them any extended time off hasn't really been an option.
"It's a challenge," Hurdle said. "The way Holliday and Hawpe are playing -- Atkins has responded well and you've got Helton -- it's just a challenge to find him time."
Hurdle wanted to get Baker into back-to-back games when the Rockies visited the Red Sox earlier this month, but Baker had to miss the series because of flu-like symptoms.
Baker's start on Saturday was his first in almost a week, but Hurdle liked what he saw and he hopes that having Baker's bat in the lineup on back-to-back games will help him find a groove.
"This is an opportunity to back him up with two games," Hurdle said. "He had some good swings and maybe this could get him into a flow."
Did you know? Saturday's game against the Blue Jays was the first time in Helton's career that he started at designated hitter. He went 0-for-4 with a walk, but is still batting an NL-best .397 (29-for-73) in day games this season.
Up next: Colorado left-hander Jeff Francis (7-5, 3.44 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound against the Cubs at 6:05 p.m. MT on Monday at Wrigley Field. Chicago will counter with right-hander Jason Marquis (5-4, 3.38 ERA).
Gregor Chisholm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.