09/22/12 8:28 PM ET
Gold medalist Franklin sinks in first pitch
By Owen Perkins / Special to MLB.com
"If I can make it to the catcher, I will be happy," four-time Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin said before the game.
Coloradans didn't care what Franklin threw like, but they reveled in the 17-year-old Aurora resident's performances in the London Olympics this summer, winning five medals overall while setting world records for 200-meter backstroke and the 4x100 medley relay.
But for the affable Franklin, throwing out the first pitch in front of thousands of Rockies fans had her feeling like a fish out of water.
"I'm so out of my element," she said before her big moment. "I just don't want to make a total fool of myself."
To help her prepare and take the edge off, Rockies reliever Matt Belisle made a trip to Regis Jesuit High School to help the senior Olympian practice her throw.
"We had an awesome time," she said of her one-on-one with Belisle at her school. "It was pouring rain outside, so we went in the gym. He taught me some tricks. Just basic, basic throwing skills.
"Softball is one of the only sports I haven't done. I'm so psyched. I've been looking forward to it ever since Matt came. I felt better once I practiced. Before I was really nervous, but now that I realize I can actually throw a ball, I think I'm more excited."
Belisle's coaching paid off, as Franklin shook him off once Saturday night then floated a pitch to the inside corner of the plate to the thunderous applause of the Coors Field faithful who deemed it a strike.
Franklin has lived in Colorado since before she could swim, and said she loves all Colorado teams. Her post Olympic tour took her to the Broncos season opener, where she made the ceremonial coin flip.
"It's been so amazing -- it's such an honor to go to all these incredible sporting events," Franklin said. "It's so awesome to meet all these other incredible athletes, because they're an inspiration to so many people. I'm really excited."
Between goodwill events and appearances to celebrate her summer success, Franklin has been settling into the school year, visiting colleges, and figuring out how to balance her new fame with her final year of high school.
"I was able to go to my first [Regis] football game last night," Franklin said. "It was really, really fun. I've definitely been able to do some things that are just for me."
She said she'll be making three more college trips in October before trying to make a decision in November.
"I think it's a new normal," she said of her post-Olympic pace. "I don't think my life will ever go back to the way it was before the Olympics. But I think it's adjusting to the new normal, that's my life now, which has been a blast."
Tulo ramps up rehab aiming for 2012 return
DENVER -- He's not ready to suit up for a big league game yet, but Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has ramped up his rehab work in hopes of reaching a comfort level that could get him back on the field before the season ends.
Tulowitzki has missed 101 games through Friday after going on the disabled list and undergoing surgery for a strained left groin.
"Tulo has been doing a lot of work," manager Jim Tracy said. "He's pushed himself beyond where he's been in previous days. [Head athletic trainer] Keith [Dugger] had him out early this afternoon, and my understanding is they did roughly a half-hour's worth of different types of running drills."
Tulowitzki also fielded grounders and has been taking infield practice through much of the month, getting some informal experience with rookie Josh Rutledge, who including Saturday has made 48 starts at shortstop -- one more than Tulo for the team high among six shortstops used this season -- but is penciled in to play second base next season.
"I think it's a combination of both -- mental and from the physical side of things. He knows exactly how it is that he feels," Tracy said of Tulowitzki's recovery process. "He realizes that, just like Jorge De La Rosa realized with his start the other day in San Francisco, that ramping yourself up to play a Major League game versus in a Minor League rehab game, there's a little bit more involved there.
"I think that he wants to feel in his mind like he's able to play the game and not have to think about different instinctive type reactions that he has to make. I don't think that he wants to be out there and play with a thought in his mind that, 'I have to think about this before I do it.' I don't think that that would be very conducive to anybody if we had him out there on the field in that state. I think that's why you see the extensiveness of the workouts that he's had here, so he can get himself beyond that and just go play."
Tulowitzki had hoped to return to the field much sooner, when he went on the DL on May 30, and if he can get game-ready before the end of the season, it should be a great relief to him going into the offseason.
"If the possibility is there for [Tulowitzki and other rehabbing Rockies] to participate again and as they go into the offseason have complete peace of mind, [it would be a benefit]," Tracy said.
Cuddyer close to returning from oblique injury
DENVER -- Though the Rockies have had great production out of their young position players in the second half of the season, including seven rookies who have combined for 350 starts through Saturday's game with Arizona, the club is still eager to see a veteran or two return to action before the season ends.
Perhaps the closest to returning to play is right fielder Michael Cuddyer, who made his second trip to the disabled list on Aug. 19 with an oblique injury and has missed 43 games through a pair of DL stints.
"Michael Cuddyer has been doing quite a bit of work in the cage, and if all continues to go well, there's a chance that he could be out here and begin taking some BP on the field on Monday," manager Jim Tracy said Saturday. "He's getting there, but here we go again -- he was getting there the last time too. This injury we're talking about is a very tricky one, but he has progressed nicely and has had no setbacks of any kind as of late."
Tracy remains cautious with the oblique injury, particularly given Cuddyer's quick return to the DL three days after coming back from his first oblique injury in August.
"I can't push that envelope," Tracy said. "I can't push him into the pool -- I won't do that."
Tracy also noted that Eric Young Jr., also recovering from an oblique injury suffered Aug. 20, is "not quite as far along" as Cuddyer.
In other health news, Carlos Gonzalez will be on the bench with a tight left hamstring for the second day in a row and the fourth time in the last five games.
"He is more than likely going to be available to pinch-hit, and that would be about it for today," Tracy said. "That still puts him in a day-to-day type of status."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.