7/19/2014 7:21 P.M. ET
Morneau, out with stiff neck, hopes to play Sunday
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau, still suffering from a stiff neck on Saturday, hopes Sunday is the day he can face his former club, the Pirates, at PNC Park.
Morneau finished last season with the Pirates and was part of a team that reached the playoffs. He hit .260 in the final 25 regular-season games and went 6-for-20 (.300) in the five-game National League Division Series loss to the Cardinals, but did not hit a home run. This year, Morneau is hitting .312 with 13 home runs and 60 RBIs for the Rockies, the team he signed with this winter.
"It happens to me every now and then, but it's better that it's two days down now than two weeks later," said Morneau, who dealt with neck stiffness during Spring Training and had a brief bout with it earlier in the season. "It's tough because we're playing against my former team and we're scuffling a little bit. But sometimes it's better to think long term.
"I'm hoping I can play tomorrow."
Rockies lefty Boone Logan also was unavailable Friday with a stiff neck. It was uncertain if he would be available Saturday night.
Prospect Butler sent to Double-A Tulsa
PITTSBURGH -- Rockies right-handed prospect Eddie Butler, who suffered a right rotator cuff strain during his Major League debut on June 6, was recalled from his injury rehab assignment on Saturday, then optioned to Double-A Tulsa, where he began the season.
Butler, the Rockies' No. 2 prospect as ranked by MLB.com, has had two rehab starts, one for Class A Advanced Modesto and Friday night for Triple-A Colorado Springs at Memphis -- where he gave up seven runs (six earned) and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings of a 12-1 loss.
"It's just giving him time to get sharp," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "He's been out for awhile. He's had a couple of rehab starts, but we're just giving him time to get everything in order, then he'll be ready to come back and help us.
"We want to make sure he's sharp and ready to go into a Major League game and succeed. He's a very young pitcher. He's only made one Major League start. We want to make sure he's in position to succeed."
Butler, a supplemental first-round Draft pick in 2013, was 4-4 with a 2.62 ERA in 11 starts at Tulsa before giving up six runs and 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings of his debut, a 7-2 loss to the Dodgers on June 6.
Weiss said he doesn't see Butler pitching at Colorado Springs -- he has yet to throw at Security Service Field, with greater altitude and more pitcher-unfriendly conditions than Denver -- as necessary before returning Butler to the Majors.
The Rockies also have a start open on Tuesday at home against the Nationals. With that pitcher more likely filling in until righty Jordan Lyles completes his rehab for a broken left hand -- Lyles is eligible to return Aug. 4 -- the starter is expected to be lefty Yohan Flande, who is on the 40-man Major League roster and is a roster-friendly move.
Top prospect Gray on radar to make debut
PITTSBURGH -- Rockies right-handed prospect Jon Gray has given up just one run, and it was unearned, in 11 2/3 innings over his last two starts at Double-A Tulsa.
Although it's likely lefty Yohan Flande, who was 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA in three starts during an earlier stint with the Rockies, will fill an open rotation spot on Tuesday against the Nationals, manager Walt Weiss said Gray is on his radar to make his debut this season.
Gray, ranked as the Rockies' No. 1 prospect by MLB.com, was Colorado's top Draft pick, third overall, out of Oklahoma last year.
"I think he's still in the picture this season, but he's in his first full season in the Minor Leagues," Weiss said. "He's making some progress. His last outing in particular was very good.
"I check his stat line and all that stuff. For the most part, we rely on our player development people. Just the fact that he's a big hoss, he's got a real good arm and he's a power pitcher, those are things to be excited about. Those things play up here, too."
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.