5/18/2013 8:18 P.M. ET
Torrealba to guide Nicasio in start vs. Giants
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
DENVER -- The Rockies need right-handed pitcher Juan Nicasio to take a step forward when he faces the Giants in Sunday afternoon's finale of the four-game set at Coors Field, and they hope veteran catcher Yorvit Torrealba can give him a push.
Torrealba, 34, has become the Rockies' troubleshooter when it comes to pitchers. Early in Spring Training, the Rockies thought Jorge De La Rosa was having issues with controlling his emotions, so they paired him with Torrealba for his first seven starts. De La Rosa generally pitched well, and the Rockies have let him throw to second-year regular catcher Wilin Rosario in his last two starts.
Nicasio (3-1, 5.13 ERA) has been plagued by short starts and difficulty putting away hitters. His struggles have made him a candidate for a demotion to Triple-A Colorado Springs, either when Jeff Francis returns from his left groin strain or when veteran Roy Oswalt, who signed a Minor League deal May 3, has built up his arm with starts at Double-A Tulsa.
But Nicasio brings a power element the team's other pitchers don't. Torrealba said Nicasio's power can take him a long way once he learns how to use it.
"He can throw his fastball by a lot of hitters," Torrealba said. "The secondary pitches, he needs to keep working on them, but instead of trying to be too fine, he needs to throw the 95, 96 mph fastball by them.
"Wilin has done a good job with him, but that's what I see. When he's being too fine, next thing you know he's got a lot of pitches in four or five innings. If I can get him to concentrate more on power and just throw, then mix up with some secondary pitches, I think he's going to be fine."
In his last start, a road loss to the Cubs, Nicasio gave up five runs in the first two innings but nothing further and lasted six -- his longest start since his first start of the season, a win at Milwaukee. Nicasio understands he will have to show production.
"Yes, I have to do better now quick," said Nicasio, who has shown proper fastball location and improved secondary pitch action in bullpen sessions, but hasn't carried that into games. "I know what's going on; I'm fighting for my job. So I have to get better, quick."
Torrealba said, "When you don't play good or when you aren't pitching good, there will be a lot of people expecting us to either get sent down or get traded or something. But he's a talented pitcher. That's the reason he's here.
"But he's working hard to get out of the little slump that he has. Hopefully, we can see the Nicasio these guys saw last year. All I heard was good stuff about him."
Manager Walt Weiss said he is not sure if he will keep Torrealba paired with Nicasio beyond Sunday.
Cuddyer on track for activation from disabled list
DENVER -- Rockies outfielder Michael Cuddyer was happy enough with his throwing and hitting in the batting cage that he believes he will be ready to return from his neck injury Friday, the day he is eligible to return from the 15-day disabled list.
Cuddyer has a disk issue that appeared in 2004, flared in 2011 and recurred during the Rockies' last homestand. He had a epidural shot Tuesday and has improved his range of motion since.
"I'm on track for Friday," Cuddyer said. "I'm sure I'll do a rehab assignment, just to see how it feels. Today was the best I felt. It's definitely gotten better every day. Two days after I got the shot, it started getting better."
The Rockies miss Cuddyer's production. He was batting .319 with seven home runs and 23 RBIs through 31 games before going to the DL.
Weiss expresses confidence in Belisle
DENVER -- Rockies right-hander Matt Belisle has given up six runs in his last five outings, including Friday night's Buster Posey home run in the eighth inning. The homer cut the Rockies' lead to one run, but the team held on for a 10-9 victory.
Belisle actually was good Friday for all but the homer pitch.
Manager Walt Weiss said he believes Belisle (1-2, 4.22 ERA) is in a good place.
"These guys are not going to be perfect every time out, but I think Matt's throwing the ball well, and he threw the ball well last night," Weiss said. "He threw a slider in the middle of the plate to one of the best hitters in baseball. I don't think it's a matter of Matt slumping."
Tulowitzki realizing value of occasional rest
DENVER -- Cal Ripken Jr. was a favorite player of Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki when he was growing up, but he realizes Ripken's durability is to be admired but not necessarily duplicated.
Tulowitzki hates sitting out of games when he's not seriously injured. But now he knows it was the right decision when the team made sure he missed three starts in a five-game stretch early this month with left groin inflammation.
Given downtime -- he made occasional pinch-hit appearances but did not run the bases or play defense when the groin issue flared -- Tulowitzki's condition has improved, and he has remained a force in the middle of the lineup.
Saturday's game against the Giants was Tulowitzki's ninth straight start. He has hits in all but three of the games -- when the Rockies were held to one hit and two hits in St. Louis on May 10 and 11 and three hits vs. the Cubs on Monday. In his last six games going into Saturday, he was 8-for-26 with a home run, two doubles, five RBIs and five runs scored.
In the past, Tulowitzki might have talked his way into the lineup. But after seeing him undergo season-ending groin surgery after playing in just 47 games last year, the Rockies decided to keep Tulowitzki off the field when he is banged up, and Tulowitzki is accepting the decisions.
"Those days of rest were huge -- I wouldn't have taken them before," Tulowitzki said. "I've learned the best way to go about things.
"Everybody's different, no doubt. I'd love to be out there every single day, but I've got to do everything I have to do to be out there as much as I can. If that means a day off here or there, it's more important than a consecutive-games streak or anything like that."
• The Rockies made the expected move when they called up right-hander Tyler Chatwood to start Saturday night, returning righty reliever Rob Scahill to Triple-A Colorado Springs. It was the second callup for Scahill, who has thrown 5 1/3 scoreless innings in two big league appearances.
"He knows what he needs to do. We talked about it all spring and he's done a very good job of it," Weiss said. "It's tough to send down guys who perform. That's exactly what I told him: Just keep doing what you're doing and there's going to come a point in time when we're not going to be able to send you out."
• Weiss is happy to see center fielder Dexter Fowler regaining his swing. Fowler went into Saturday night 3-for-10 with two runs scored and a stolen base in the first two games against the Giants. He was 3-for-34 (.088) over the previous nine games.
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.