05/09/10 8:05 PM ET
'No way': Smith in awe of friend Braden
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
After one successful day during Spring Training, Smith sent Braden a text: "Pickoffs: Greg Smith 3, Dallas Braden goose egg."
But Sunday, all Smith could come up with in a text to Braden was an almost-disbelieving "no way."
Braden threw a perfect game in a 4-0 victory over the Rays in Oakland. Let's say that gives Braden the ultimate parting shot.
"It's a running joke that he's just been living right for five years," Smith said. "They had a couple guys go down and he got an Opening Day start last year. He's just a guy in the right spot at the right time. But I can't do him one better on this one. I might as well not even try.
"He's a good guy to be around. He's always laughing, always having a good time. It's always fun for him."
Smith said he and Braden have fun when they communicate. They don't talk pitching.
"He's not the guy that's going to go out there and dissect a team," Smith said. "He's just going to throw strikes and get outs."
Tulowitzki day-to-day with quad strain
LOS ANGELES -- Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was quick to point out it's the other quadriceps muscle.
Tulowitzki left Sunday's 2-0 loss to the Dodgers in the fifth inning with a strain in the right quad and is listed as day-to-day. Rockies head athletic trainer Keith Dugger said it's possible the Rockies will order an MRI.
Tulowitzki has a history of quad problems. He missed 46 games in 2008 with a tear of the quadriceps ligament and missed a month in the Minors with a quad strain shortly after being selected seventh overall in 2005. But those issues were with the left quad.
"So if someone doesn't ask me if it's the same thing as last time; it's the same spot, but a different leg," Tulowtizki said.
Tulowitzki said he does not believe the injury is at the level it was with the 2008 injury, "but you never know."
Tulowitzki was injured attempting a double-play relay throw. The Dodgers' Jamey Carroll grounded to the mound, where Ubaldo Jimenez wheeled to throw to second. Tulowitzki avoided the sliding Blake DeWitt, but his throw was not in time.
Tulowitzki moved awkwardly on the play, partly because he was screened on the throw by second-base umpire Gary Darling, who was moving into position to see the play at second.
"With Jimenez on a comebacker, out of anybody on the team, you really try to gather your feet and see the ball because the throw is so hard," Tulowitzki said. "The umpire, I don't know what happened. He was crossing, so I was sitting there blind, with Jimenez throwing. You don't know what's going to happen. I finally saw the ball and took an awkward step."
After the action stopped, Dugger and Rockies manager Jim Tracy visited with Tulowitzki, who attempted to run on the infield dirt before being removed.
In 2008, Tulowitzki stayed in the game after tweaking the muscle, then suffered a far greater injury.
"It was kind of precautionary to come out, but at the same time I think it was the right decision," he said.
Tulowitzki was 1-for-2 with a bunt single and a strikeout. For the season, he is batting .311 with one home run and 14 RBIs.
Since the 2008 injury, Tulowitzki has developed a pregame routine and overall fitness plans that combat leg muscle tightness.
Clint Barmes move from second base to shortstop and Melvin Mora entered at second after Sunday's injury.
Gonzalez leaves Rockies to attend funeral
LOS ANGELES -- Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez will be away from the club until Tuesday to attend the funeral of an uncle in Venezuela, manager Jim Tracy said Sunday morning before the finale of a three-game series with the Dodgers.
Gonzalez leads the team with 25 RBIs and is hitting .318 with three homers and has 18 RBIs in his past 11 games.
"He has an uncle that was more or less a father figure/mentor of his that passed and [Gonzalez] asked for permission to attend the funeral," Tracy said. "Obviously, it was granted when he described how much his uncle meant to him and what he represented as far as his life was concerned."
Tracy said he is not inclined to play Gonzalez on Tuesday at home against the Phillies, because he will have just traveled from Venezuela. Tracy said the Rockies have been in contact with Major League Baseball to see if they can temporarily replace Gonzalez on the 25-man active roster.
Ubaldo welcomes Braden to no-hit club
LOS ANGELES -- Rockies right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez doesn't know Athletics left-hander Dallas Braden, but now they have a kinship. Braden, however, joined the club at a higher membership level.
Jimenez threw the season's first no-hitter on April 17, a 4-0 road victory over the Braves. On Sunday, Jimenez had borderline no-hit stuff when he held the Dodgers one run to two hits in seven innings but took his first loss of the season, 2-0 in L.A. When he entered the Dodger Stadium clubhouse, he saw the report that Braden had just thrown a perfect game in a 4-0 victory over the Rays in Oakland.
Braden's game was perfect because no opponent reached first base. Jimenez walked six in his no-hitter. In either case, it's a rare and impressive feat.
"It's great to see somebody else doing it, especially a perfect game -- he's been blessed," Jimenez said. "It's not easy to have one of those.
"It's not even easy to throw three or four innings without a hit. Anyone can get a hit, even a pitcher, and they don't have a pitcher hitting. Like I said, God wanted you to have one of those."
History suggests Tulowitzki can get hotter
LOS ANGELES -- This is usually the time of year that Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki heats up offensively.
Before this year, Tulowitzki would struggle through April, but by the summer months he would assume his place among the best in baseball at his position. The difference this time is he had a good April that he has carried into May. He entered Sunday afternoon's finale against the Dodgers hitting .308 with one home run and 14 RBIs.
So if in the past he was a sub-.200 hitter in April and a .300-or-better hitter the rest of the way, does that mean he blows .300 away for the rest of this year?
Tulowitzki chuckles at the expectation he's built for himself.
"I don't feel like I'm struggling, but I don't think I'm where everybody expects me to be," Tulowitzki said. "Hopefully, I get going here and my team gets going as well.
"If you look at numbers, I'm not that bad of a player, but at the same time they expect a lot out of me. But I hope that's the case, that I can continue what I did in years past, but you never know."
Of course, the folly would be for Tulowitzki to try to hit 100 points above his average. No one with any perspective is asking that.
"I'm not going to sit here and encourage him to do it," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "All we would do is anything that he's feeling that isn't quite right yet, we're just going to worsen it. Just continue to take at-bats and just try to barrel up the ball."
Tulowitzki said, "I just do what I do, and that's enough to play at this level. Don't try to do too much. It's going to come."
Stewart a rare road warrior for Rockies
LOS ANGELES -- The refrain is part of the soundtrack to the Rockies' story: Yeah, but what does he do on the road? Truly special is the Rockies player who produces on the road the way he does at Coors Field.
Then there's third baseman Ian Stewart's early 2010 performance. Going into Sunday's finale with the Dodgers, Stewart was hitting .250 with no extra-base hits at Coors Field, but .333 with six home runs, four doubles and a triple on the road.
The best answer to this stat puzzle is that it's early. Sunday was the Rockies' 19th road game against 12 home games. The Rockies will begin evening that up starting Monday with a seven-game homestand against the Phillies and the Nationals.
"I'm sure it'll even out during the course of the year," Stewart said.
This is not a new pattern for Stewart, however. He has 27 career homers and 53 extra-base hits away from Coors, and 19 homers and 40 extra-base hits at home. He admits there might be an explanation.
"I feel maybe my body feels a little bit better on the road," Stewart said. "The altitude can get to you sometimes. But that's not really an excuse. I don't know how to answer that."
Through eight games of the road trip to three difficult parks for power hitters -- AT&T Park in San Francisco, PETCO Park in San Diego and Dodger Stadium -- Stewart has the Rockies' only two homers. Both of them, a 12th-inning game-winner Thursday night against the Padres and a two-run shot Saturday night against the Dodgers, were crushed on a night when other well-hit balls died short of the wall. And the homer against the Padres' Tim Stauffer was to the opposite gap, and the one off Ramon Ortiz on Saturday was to dead center, so they weren't pull shots.
"That gives you a pretty good idea of how powerful he is," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "I'll go back to day one of Spring Training and understanding how important it is. We talked an awful lot about keeping the ball in the big part of the ballpark. How good of an offensive player has Ian Stewart been when he's not pull-oriented?"
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.