08/24/12 3:18 PM ET
Colvin, LeMahieu return to Wrigley in groove
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
Chacin, Francis could be given longer leash on hill
CHICAGO -- The Rockies' pitching plan is most likely going to become a little less formulaic.From late June until this week, Colorado used four starters with a pitch limit around 75 -- which usually prevented them from facing a lineup a third time -- and three "piggy-back" pitchers who took turns being available to throw 50 pitches in a game. Jhoulys Chacin's return from the disabled list this returned the club to a five-man rotation, but for now, the limit remains. Manager Jim Tracy said Friday he was not in position to discuss the pitching plan in detail. However, all along, the Rockies said they were looking for a pitcher or two who could be given a little longer leash. Chacin -- who went six innings in Monday's 6-2 victory over the Mets -- and veteran lefty Jeff Francis are candidates for higher pitch ceilings. Granted, the numbers still suggest a pitch limit works in Colorado. Throughout the history of the franchise, seasons of 150 or more innings by a starter are often followed by those of injury or diminished effectiveness. Also, batting averages rise the third time through an order, and they tend to rise dramatically in games at Coors Field -- regardless of the pitcher. However, the Rockies have to balance the need to preserve starters with the load on the bullpen. Going into Friday, Josh Roenicke led Major League relievers with 73 1/3 innings pitched, and primary setup man Matt Belisle was third with 64 1/3. Tracy said his focus is still getting the younger pitchers -- rookie lefty Drew Pomeranz and second-year right-handers Alex White and Tyler Chatwood -- to use the pitch limit to learn to be more efficient. "There are some learning points," Tracy said. "I know that none of these young starters that we have want to be taken out of the game after three innings. I'm OK with that. Pitch better. Pitch more consistently, and I won't take you out."
Rockies third-base coach Rich Dauer missed Friday's game because he will be inducted into the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame on Saturday, along with former pitcher Mike Mussina and longtime Orioles scout Walter Youse.Dauer played all 10 of his Major League seasons with the Orioles, was a member of the 1983 World Series team and owns two American League single-season record fielding steaks for a second baseman -- 86 errorless games and 425 errorless chances. Bench coach Tom Runnells took Dauer's place and will be in the third-base coaching box Saturday. Center fielder Dexter Fowler, who suffered a right ankle injury on the bases Wednesday night, was off crutches Friday and won't start in the three-game series with the Cubs, although Tracy said he could show up as a pinch-hitter Sunday. Fowler can move forward, but the Rockies are concerned about his ability to move lateally. Second baseman Josh Rutledge, hampered by sore left quadriceps throughout the current road trip, didn't start Friday's opener with the Cubs, but he was "doing better," Tracy said. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (left groin surgery) and first baseman Jason Giambi (viral syndrome) were set to begin their rehab assignments with Double-A Tulsa on Friday night. Tulowitzki was scheduled to play five innings and Giambi was scheduled to be the designated hitter.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.