05/01/2013 2:25 AM ET
Chacin expected to start Sunday; Helton improving
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- Rockies right-hander Jhoulys Chacin pitched six strong innings in an extended spring training game in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Tuesday, and if his work between games goes well, he will start Sunday against the Rays at Coors Field, Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.
Chacin (3-0, 1.46 ERA) lived up to his responsibility as the Rockies' No. 1 pitcher in his four starts before suffering a mild back strain on April 19.
What isn't clear is the corresponding move the Rockies will make when Chacin is activated. The club called up righty Tyler Chatwood from Triple-A Colorado Springs to fill in for Chacin. After a competitive but imperfect start against the Braves in his first effort, Chatwood threw six scoreless innings in Monday night's 12-2 victory over the Dodgers.
"He's done well," Weiss said. "Our bottom line is we always want to put our best team on the field. We're always evaluating and trying to figure out what that is. Tyler is a talented kid. There are some things he's been working on down in Colorado Springs. He's made a lot of headway in the things he was working on, but we knew what kind of arm that he had.
"When he's at the bottom of the zone with his fastball, he's really tough."
It's not clear what other move the Rockies could make. Righty Juan Nicasio has struggled at times, but his fastball velocity took a jump in his last start, a win at Arizona. Nicasio is 3-0 with a 4.62 ERA going into his start against the Dodgers on Wednesday night.
In another injury-related development, Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, who hasn't played since April 19 because of a left forearm strain, took groundballs and did some throwing during batting practice on Tuesday. He was not wearing the forearm/wrist brace that has been present most of the time during his recovery.
After batting practice, Helton took swings with a fungo bat, then hit off of a tee. It was the first hitting he had done since the injury. Rockies head athletic trainer Keith Dugger said Helton will hit in the batting cage and could hit on the field Wednesday if he feels good.
Tulowitzki expects to return to lineup Wednesday
LOS ANGELES -- Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki's strained left rotator cuff felt better taking batting practice Tuesday than it did Monday, and he expects to return to the starting lineup for Wednesday night's final game of three against the Dodgers.
Tulowitzki was not available to play during Monday night's 12-2 victory. Rockies trainers recommended he not be in the lineup for Tuesday's game, but he said he was available for pinch-hitting duty.
"Compared to yesterday, today was a lot different," Tulowitzki said. "I'm looking forward to getting back."
Tulowitzki talked to the media after taking batting practice in the indoor cage. He also took swings on the field, and knocked homers into the Dodgers bullpen in left and into the left-field bleachers -- further proof that he is ready to swing at full strength.
Tulowitzki, who suffered the injury sliding to home plate during Sunday's 4-2 loss at Arizona, joked that Monday's victory over the Dodgers made it easier for the team to tell him to sit one more day.
"I was talking to some guys and said, 'Yesterday was a bad win for us,'" Tulowitzki said. "I was obviously joking. But I think it would have been a little different if we would have lost.
"But I think I can talk them into making sure that I'm in there tomorrow. I can't handle watching any more games."
CarGo finding swing against Dodgers
LOS ANGELES -- Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez's role in the 12-2 rout of the Dodgers on Monday night might have unlocked his swing.
Gonzalez entered in a 4-for-35 slump. But he had three hits of many varieties -- a double off the wall, an infield single and, in the ninth inning after the Dodgers used infielder Skip Schumacker as pitcher, a solid single up the middle.
"CarGo had some good at-bats, looked comfortable in the box," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said before Tuesday's game. "He's such a talented player he's not going to struggle for long.
Gonzalez carried that over in Tuesday's game, drilling a solo home run in the first inning.
Gonzalez didn't start Sunday's finale of three games with the D-backs but struck out in a pinch-hit at-bat. But Weiss wasn't going to sit him long. Putting him back in his familiar No. 3 spot paid dividends immediately Monday night.
"All it takes is one swing," said Gonzalez. "We're all going to go through bad moments, but at the same time I can go off in one series."
Pacheco continues providing steady contributions
LOS ANGELES -- Rockies utility man Jordan Pacheco is quick to say the team misses first baseman Todd Helton, but Pacheco is making the veteran's absence not so painful.
Pacheco had a Helton-esque night in Monday's 12-2 victory with two hits, including a two-run double. Helton hasn't played since April 19 because of a left forearm strain. Pacheco has been the primary first baseman since, and responded by having multiple hits in six of his last seven starts going into another start Tuesday night.
"We need Todd in there, because our team is better with him," Pacheco said. "I'm doing what I can to keep things going, trying to be myself and not do too much, and try to do something to help the team win."
Last year, Pacheco led National League rookies with a .309 batting average but little top-shelf power -- five home runs. To his credit, Pacheco has resisted any urge to try to force more power. Going into Tuesday he hadn't homered this year and had three doubles among his 20 hits, but his .364 batting average and .417 on-base percentage heading into Tuesday's game represented steady contributions.
"It's situational," Pacheco said. "I can get a runner over, get him in, and I can get on base. I am aggressive in the box. These are the Major Leagues and pitchers aren't just going to throw the ball down the middle. So I try to stay ready for when that pitch comes and take my shot at it. I know what type of player I am."
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.