07/19/10 8:20 PM EST
Rehab schedule set for Tulowitzki
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
The Rockies have mapped out a rehab schedule that begins with games for Triple-A Colorado Springs on Wednesday and Thursday, and with Double-A Tulsa Saturday, Sunday and next Monday, with the final appearance as a pinch-hitter. He'll return to Denver on July 27 to be evaluated for a return the next day.
Tulowitzki has missed 25 games. Although the Rockies have won 16 of them, they will need him to anchor the lineup down the stretch. Before suffering the injury when hit by a pitch on June 17, Tulowitzki hit .306 with nine home runs and 34 RBIs -- enough to earn an invitation to the All-Star Game for the first time.
Tulowitzki has taken batting practice and fielded ground balls at every opportunity since returning from the All-Star break. But the only way of knowing if he's ready is participating in game action, which is the reason for the rehab assignment.
The confidence to swing at inside pitches without fear is just one of the markers of his readiness.
"Just with the game, some things are going to fall in my lap," Tulowitzki said. "And I might strike out. Swing-and-miss is going to be a big test for me. Diving back into first [on a pickoff], we'll see. I might just go back into first and it happens, then I'll say, 'Hey, I'm OK.'"
He's splitting his rehab between Colorado Springs and Tulsa, because the Rockies would rather he not travel during a Colorado Springs road trip. Tulowitzki likes the idea of making the two stops.
"It's nice to see Minor League coaches that helped me along the way," Tulowitkzi said. "To go back to the Springs and see Stu Cole [the Sky Sox's manager, who managed Tulowitzki in Tulsa], I have a great relationship with him. To go back to Tulsa, I played there and I have relatives there."
In other rehab news, Rockies manager Jim Tracy said utility man Eric Young Jr., coming back from a stress fracture of the right tibia, is "moving along nicely" in game action at Tulsa and has even been taken out on a double play with no problems. Righty reliever Taylor Buchholz is pitching on a consistent schedule after a recent back issue. Buchholz missed last season with Tommy John surgery. Righty reliever Matt Daley, out with shoulder stiffness, joined Colorado Springs on Monday and is scheduled to pitch Thursday. Colorado Springs righty prospect Samuel Deduno, who has missed much of the year with a stress fracture of his throwing elbow, will be back on the mound within days.
Helton's rough BP may put return on hold
MIAMI -- Monday afternoon started with Rockies first baseman Todd Helton feeling good about his tricky back, and manager Jim Tracy entertaining thoughts of changing club practice and activating him from the disabled list as early as Wednesday.
Then came a batting-practice session at Sun Life Stadium that became increasingly troubling.
The bat speed and opposite-way stroke that showed up over the weekend during BP in Cincinnati -- sessions that led all to believe Helton was fine -- were nowhere to be found. By the final round, groun dballs to the left side of the infield were the norm, and Helton walked dejectedly away from the cage.
So, was it simply a bad day for a back that will have more good days? Was it something more?
"I don't know if that's physical or just a bad day swinging," said Helton, officially placed on the DL on July 7 with lower-back stiffness. "We'll see."
He is eligible to return on Tuesday, but Tracy said he didn't want Helton to face Marlins left-hander Nate Robertson. Marlins righty Ricky Nolasco, Wednesday's starter, is a better matchup.
All the good feeling wasn't gone, but Helton was in wait-and-see mode when it came to Wednesday.
"I don't think right now is a good time to really be answering that question," said Helton, who fielded ground balls hit by Tracy with no difficulty. "We'll see how I feel.
"I felt terrible. Not pain-wise, but a bad round of BP. We'll chalk it up to that."
Still, the idea of bringing back Helton without injury rehab is significant.
Part of it is the respect the Rockies have for Helton. In the past, Helton's willingness to follow club policy without complaint gave teammates no excuse to fight a rehab assignment. He's long removed from his All-Star, power-hitting, Gold Glove Award-winning form, but he's still revered within the clubhouse.
The other part is if rest and an epidural shot Helton took have him feeling good, the Rockies don't want him to waste swings in the Minors. Helton, who turns 38 on Aug. 20, hit .246 with two home runs and 16 RBIs in 69 games before going on the DL, so the Rockies want all of him they can get if he's able to give it.
"Just due to the fact of who it is you're talking about, where he's at and how he feels, there's a part of you that thinks to yourself you want to get as much from him as you possibly can rather than send him out," Tracy said. "We'll see how he feels. We're talking about a guy that knows himself pretty darn well."
Street spotless as closer since return
MIAMI -- The Rockies have a tendency to play close games, so it's good they have a closer on a hot streak.
Right-hander Huston Street has been nearly spotless since returning from a shoulder injury that cost him the season's first 69 games. He has been a boon to a Rockies club that is 15-14 in one-run decisions this year.
Street is 6-for-6 in save chances. Going into Monday night's game with the Marlins, Street's five saves since July 1 were one behind the six by Marlins closer Leo Nunez.
On Sunday, in preserving a 1-0 victory over the Reds at Great American Ball Park, Street struck out the side for the first time this season -- but not until after giving up two one-out singles and having to pitch out of a first-and-third jam. Street's high-wire act kept the Rockies from being swept in the three-game set.
"It was a huge series for the team," Street said. "The way we finished coming into the break, you want to get off on the right foot. You don't have any break when you go to Florida and face their pitching staff, then we go on to Philly and we're probably going to see [ace pitcher Roy] Halladay.
"The first win after the break, it was good to get that under your belt."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.