6/20/2013 1:05 A.M. ET
Gonzalez gets a laugh out of batting second
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
TORONTO -- Hard-swinging Rockies left fielder Carlos Gonzalez laughed when he saw manager Walt Weiss put him second in the Rockies' batting order against the Blue Jays on Wednesday night.
Often the No. 2 hitter is a bat-handler who can bunt or perform the hit-and-run. Let's say Gonzalez, with 21 home runs and 57 RBIs after a solo shot in the fifth inning of Wednesday's 5-2 loss, has no interest in filling that job description, nor does Weiss want him trying to be that type of hitter.
"It's different, but I really don't mind, because I'll try to do the same thing," Gonzalez said. "We'll just move everybody up a little bit and try to get that extra at-bat."
Gonzalez entered with 21 games from the No. 2 spot in his career. He has more experience in the leadoff spot, 107 games, where former manager Jim Tracy hit him early in his career.
"I've toyed with the idea of hitting CarGo second in American League parks, when you have the No. 9 guy that's an offensive guy, not a pitcher, three spots in front of that two-hole," Weiss said. "I decided to roll with it tonight. Maybe it comes down to the situation where he gets that extra at-bat."
Francis' locker cleared out before game
TORONTO -- Quietly, the Rockies cleared out the locker of left-hander Jeff Francis on Wednesday.
Manager Walt Weiss did not announce that he has been bumped from the team's active roster for veteran right-hander Roy Oswalt, who will make his Rockies debut on Thursday in Washington. Weiss said he will announce the corresponding move before Thursday's game.
But the locker was clear and Francis (2-5, 6.58 ERA in 11 starts) was not part of the Rockies' pregame preparation.
The next move is still uncertain.
According to a source familiar with the situation, the Rockies would like to option Francis to the Minors. With more than seven years' service time in the Majors, Francis would have to agree to the move.
Although Francis, 32, has struggled this season, the Rockies still have a need for him. Beyond the five pitchers still in the rotation, there is not much in terms of starting depth.
Left-hander Drew Pomeranz is coming off a dominating effort in his last start at Triple-A Colorado Springs, but before then had a string of starts where he was dazzling for four or five innings then lost it. Veteran Aaron Cook and prospect lefty Christian Friedrich are on the Triple-A disabled list. Chris Volstad, who has been with the Rockies twice, and on Tuesday was strong in his first start since going back to Triple-A, is seen as a multi-inning reliever more than a starter.
Francis, who has pitched two stints for the Rockies from 2004-10 and 2012-13 -- with a stop with the Royals in between -- gave up eight runs in six innings on Tuesday in a loss to the Blue Jays.
Cuddyer extends unique hitting streak
TORONTO -- Severely bruised ribs interrupted Rockies right fielder Michael Cuddyer's season, but they didn't break his consistent hitting approach.
Cuddyer singled off Blue Jays starter Mark Buehrle in the first inning of Wednesday's 5-2 loss to extend his career-best hitting streak to 17 games. It is the longest for a Rockies player since Matt Holliday went 17 straight in 2007. He finished 1-for-5 with two strikeouts.
A lot has happened during the streak. Cuddyer missed five games with the rib injury, but hit .348 in the six games between his return and Wednesday night. Cuddyer had also spent the last five games in the cleanup spot -- after the loss of shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to a rib injury last week that will keep him out another 3-5 weeks.
Manager Walt Weiss tweaked the lineup on Wednesday, moving Carlos Gonzalez up one spot to No. 2 and Cuddyer to No. 3 against Buehrle, hoping to get an extra plate appearance for one, or both. Gonzalez was 2-for-5 with his NL-leading 21st home run. Wilin Rosario hit fourth and went 2-for-3 with a walk.
Nothing has fazed Cuddyer.
"You consistently try to put together a good at-bat, and I'm not worrying about the next at-bat or two at-bats away," Cuddyer said. "I'm worrying about that pitch. That's helping me focus, pitch for pitch. It takes a lot of work to continue to focus. You're going to have a season of 550, 600 at-bats. It's easy to look long term. What that does is it makes you deal with the grind a little bit easier.
"Think back when you went to school. The first day of school was all fun and everything, then you'd look and say, 'I've still got eight months left of school,' rather than just worrying about each and every day."
Also in the lineup on Wednesday was second baseman DJ LeMahieu in the leadoff spot, as Dexter Fowler sat for the second straight game because of a sore right ring finger (Weiss said he is getting better and will not need to go on the DL), and first baseman Jordan Pacheco and catcher Yorvit Torrealba. Rosario, the regular catcher, was the designated hitter.
Similar righties Chatwood, Oswalt to finally meet
TORONTO -- Rockies right-hander Tyler Chatwood has been linked to veteran star Roy Oswalt throughout his career, even though the two have never met.
Both are wishfully listed at 6-feet tall (many size measurements on rosters and in media guides are not in line with reality). Sub-6-foot right-handers are rare because of a long term scouting prejudice that says their lack of height can lead to injury. This adage has been disproven by the Giants' Tim Lincecum and one-time Rockies righty Byung-Hyun Kim, but it will likely never go away in an era in which players all over the diamond are bigger than ever.
Chatwood, 23, said he's excited to finally meet Oswalt, 35, on Thursday, when Oswalt joins the Rockies for his start against the Nationals.
"I was compared to him because of stature and similar stuff -- a big curveball, velocity on the fastball," said Chatwood (4-1, 2.33 ERA in seven starts). "Anytime you hear that, it's a compliment.
"I don't know him at all, but I'll meet him tomorrow. I just enjoy the way he pitches. I remember growing up watching him with the Astros and the Phillies. I like the way he throws the ball, and I've heard a lot of good things about the way he competes."
Chatwood said he uses any criticism for lack of height positively.
"It doesn't bother me at all," he said. "It adds fuel to the fire. I can't control how tall I am, so it doesn't matter. I've got to go out there, handle my business and try to help my team."
• Rockies right-hander Juan Nicasio, who started Wednesday night against the Blue Jays, took the mound wearing the unfamiliar No. 12. Nicasio gave up No. 44 to veteran righty Roy Oswalt, who will make his Rockies' debut in Thursday night's game at Washington.
Nicasio allowed two earned runs in five innings for the loss.
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.