09/02/12 9:54 PM ET
'Special' Giambi returns to Rockies in style
By Jack Etkin / MLB.com
Playing in his first game for Colorado since July 20, Giambi, who had been sidelined with what has been termed a viral infection, pinch-hit in the eighth and flared an opposite-field broken-bat single to left field, the ball just eluding Padres shortstop Evereth Cabrera's sliding attempt to catch it.
Giambi received a loud ovation when he came to bat, with many of the fans standing. "It was pretty impressive," Giambi said. "Very honored. Very honored."
Manager Jim Tracy said of the 41-year-old Giambi, whose Major League bottom line includes 429 home runs, 1,405 RBIs and an American League MVP Award: "He's a rock star, he really is. And he's embraced by these fans, evidenced by the ovation he got when he showed up as a pinch-hitter."
Tracy said Giambi's presence on the bench might cause the opposing manager to get a left-handed pitcher up and expend warm-up pitches.
"He creates all kinds of strategic possibilities for you with his mere presence," Tracy said. "That's the baseball-playing part. But he also is a presence with our young players, and he's a breath of fresh air with our young players to be as approachable a guy as he is with the resume that he has. It's real special."
Nelson improving his opposite-field awareness
DENVER -- Third baseman Chris Nelson has been doing better at hitting to right field, an opposite-field awareness that stems from a chat with hitting coach Carney Lansford last Wednesday.
Before a game that day with the Dodgers, when Nelson had three hits, two to right field, Lansford asked Nelson the type of hitter as far as average and home runs that Nelson thought he could be in a good year, playing regularly. Nelson's answer -- .320 with 15 home runs. To which, Lansford said he thought Nelson could hit 20 home runs playing in Coors Field and added an important detail.
"I said, 'The only way you're going to hit .300 is to use the whole field,'" Lansford said. "He's making a conscious effort now of letting the ball travel, using the whole field."
Nelson said he "got a little pull-conscious" before his chat with Lansford. On Saturday night, Nelson went 1-for-4 with a single to left. He hit three balls for outs to right field, including a line drive and a deep fly.
"Last night even though I didn't have the results I wanted, was a good game for me mentally to go over there and know I can still get hits," said Nelson, who entered Sunday hitting .275 with six homers in 236 at-bats. "You don't see pull hitters hitting .300. That's the biggest thing I got out of that conversation [with Lansford]."
Tulo, De La Rosa making progress in rehab
DENVER -- Troy Tulowitzki resumed his rehab assignment today and went 1-for-2 with a walk while playing five innings at shortstop at Triple-A Colorado Springs. He is scheduled to play seven innings Monday at shortstop in the final game of the Pacific Coast League's regular season and then be re-evaluated.
Tulowitzki played three games there last week, one as the DH, as he works his way back from surgery June 21 that removed scar tissue from a nerve in his left groin area. Tulowitzki strained the groin May 30, the last time he played for the Rockies.
Meanwhile, left-hander Jorge De La Rosa had no arm soreness after throwing a 45-pitch simulated game Saturday. He is scheduled to make a rehab start Wednesday against Ogden for Rookie league team Grand Junction, in their second-last game of the regular season.
De La Rosa will parachute into a pennant race, since Grand Junction enters Sunday in second place, 1 1/2 games behind Ogden in the North Division of the Pioneer League.
He underwent Tommy John surgery in June 2011. He twice had rehab assignments halted this season due to elbow soreness and forearm tightness.
Harris' family excited to see him potentially face Chipper
DENVER -- Reliever Will Harris, who is from Baton Rouge, La., said about 10 family members from there, including his wife, 4-month-old daughter and father-in-law, and from Eunice, La., are making the eight-hour drive to Atlanta where the Rockies begin a four-game series Monday.
Harris said his family members are Braves fans and are excited to see Chipper Jones in the waning days of his Braves career and to see Harris possibly pitch for the Rockies.
And if future Hall of Famer Jones should come to bat against Harris?
"They're going to root for me," he said.
Walks were a problem for Jhoulys Chacin earlier in the season when he was pitching with an irritated nerve in his right pectoral muscle. He had 15 walks and 22 strikeouts in 24 2/3 innings in his first five starts before going on the disabled list May 2. Since returning, Chacin's command has been very good with four walks and eight strikeouts in 18 innings while going 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA.
On Saturday, Chacin threw 53 of 74 pitches for strikes, and manager Jim Tracy said, "I've been here since 2009, and I have not seen fastball command from Jhoulys Chacin like I saw it last night."
The Rockies have had little success lately against the Braves at Turner Field, where they open a four-game series Monday. Beginning in 2003, the Rockies have lost 22 of their past 28 games there. The Rockies last won a series at Turner field in 2005 when they won two of three. In an earlier meeting this season, the Braves swept a three-game series from the Rockies at Coors Field on May 4-6.
The Rockies activated reliever Edgmer Escalona, who had been on the 15-day disabled list with right triceps tendon inflammation retroactive to Aug. 5. In two previous tours with the Rockies this season, Escalona is 0-1 with an 11.88 ERA in nine games.
First baseman Jordan Pacheco tied his career-high 11-game hitting streak with a two-run double in the third while batting fourth for the second time in three games. Pacheco has hit in seven of the nine spots in the lineup. He has not hit first or last.
Pacheco doesn't pay much attention to where he hits or make a point to check the lineup first thing when arriving at the clubhouse.
"There's already way too much going on in this game to be thinking where I'm going to be hitting in the lineup," he said.
Pacheco finished the game 2-for-4. He has gone 15-for-42 (.357) during his 11-game streak. He also hit in 11 straight games from May 15-26. The Rockies longest hitting streak is 12 straight games by Carlos Gonzalez from June 22-July 4.
Dexter Fowler's first career grand slam Saturday was the Rockies seventh of the season, one shy of their franchise record eight grand slams in 2007. Only the Yankees (nine) have more grand slams than the Rockies this season. The grand slam was Fowler's 13th homer of the season and first in 113 at-bats since July 18.
Jack Etkin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.