8/12/2014 11:04 P.M. ET
Rutledge fine with role behind Tulo
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
SAN DIEGO -- It's not Josh Rutledge's fault that folks were not happy to see him at shortstop for the Rockies starting last month. But that's what happens when you're the replacement for injured National League batting leader Troy Tulowitzki.
Since July 20, the day Tulowitzki suffered a strained left hip flexor, Rutledge has started 16 of his 18 appearances. He was immediately strong offensively, but missed three games in late July with an upper respiratory infection. The six games leading up to Tuesday night's start against the Padres have been a 1-for-19 struggle. The slump has dragged his batting average for the 18 games down to .243.
There is no backup who can replace Tulowitzki, so Rutledge doesn't waste time trying to fill All-Star shoes.
"I don't really listen to that kind of stuff," said Rutledge, who overall was batting .270 with three home runs and 21 RBIs this season entering Tuesday. "I just come out here and try to help the team win. I know we've struggled but I like the effort. Sooner or later, it's got to turn. All we can do is keep playing."
Unless you're Tulowitzki or one of a few shortstops in the Majors, hitting for power isn't a job requirement at the position. For most, defense carries more weight than offense. Benefiting from being at his natural position, Rutledge is making strides as a defender in terms of positioning, understanding how his pitchers are executing and reading swings of the opponent.
"You just have to develop consistency to be an everyday guy in this league and that's where 'Rut' is at right now," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "He's starting to be more and more consistent as a defender. He's made some great plays going to his right and throwing on the run. He's shown he can finish plays.
"You need to get to the point where you read swings, anticipate certain things in certain counts. That takes some time. I'm looking forward to getting to see him go out there on a consistent basis."
Tulo, CarGo to meet with specialists
SAN DIEGO -- Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and left fielder Carlos Gonzalez, two star players currently on the disabled list, will visit with specialists in Colorado on Wednesday to discuss treatment options.
Tulowitzki hasn't played since July 19 because of a strained left hip flexor. But the club suspects there could be an issue with the labrum in the hip and has sent him to visit orthopedic surgeon Dr. Marc Philippon. It was Philippon who performed a hip procedure on center Ryan Kesler of the Anaheim Ducks, one of the National Hockey League's premier defensive forwards.
Even if there is labrum damage, it's possible that the issue can be corrected through rest and rehab and Tulowitzki could finish the season on the field.
Gonzalez has dealt with chronic tendinitis in his left knee, and was placed on the DL Sunday. He will discuss healing procedures with Dr. Thomas Hackett, who is versed in various procedures for such knee injuries. If rest and rehab are the answer, Gonzalez could return. Procedures such as plasma-rich platelets and stem-cell therapy also could be used, although those would shelve Gonzalez for the season and begin his rehab early.
In more hopeful injury news, Rockies outfielder/first baseman Michael Cuddyer was to begin a rehab assignment at Double-A Tulsa on Tuesday, after having played three games with Rookie-level Grand Junction. Manager Walt Weiss said he doesn't expect Cuddyer to be away from the Rockies much longer, and he does not have to rehab in Triple-A before being activated.
Bettis transitions to Triple-A rotation
SAN DIEGO -- Right-hander Chad Bettis made the Rockies' active roster with a strong Spring Training, but almost immediately his year took on the disturbing pattern of standout work in the Minors and extreme struggles in the Majors (0-2, 9.21 ERA in 21 games).
To unlock Bettis, 25, the Rockies' second-round pick in the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft, the club has moved him into the starting rotation at Triple-A Colorado Springs.
Bettis was a starter at Double-A Tulsa last year, and he made eight starts for the Rockies last season before the Rockies moved him to the bullpen for his final eight games.
This year as a reliever at Colorado Springs, Bettis was 2-2 with a 1.72 ERA, three saves, and 32 strikeouts against 12 walks. But in the Majors, batters recognized pitches destined to be balls as soon as they left his hand. He ended up with 13 strikeouts, but had 10 walks and a .378 batting average against.
Maybe a return to starting could help Bettis harness his pitches. So far, not bad. Bettis will need to increase his pitch count, but in two Sky Sox starts he has given up two runs and six hits, with nine strikeouts against three walks, in 7 1/3 innings.
"One of the many things he needs is to get his rhythm and timing back over the rubber," Rockies pitching coach Jim Wright said. "When he started before, he would be in the low 90s the first three innings, the middle 90s the second three innings and the higher 90s at the end, so it took a while to get going. So we moved him to the bullpen.
"But this year we weren't seeing the same out of the 'pen that we saw at the end of the season last year. We attribute it to the fact he hasn't pitched enough to get to the point of having timing, rhythm and arm strength. We think when starting, it could come back."
It's possible that starting and being on the mound more could make him a better reliever. But the Rockies haven't ruled out keeping Bettis as a starter if he does well during this stint with the Sky Sox.
"I was never with Chad in the Minor Leagues, but he pitched pretty deep into games and seemed to get better as he went along," Wright said.
Command, rather than his role, has been the problem during his stints in the Majors this year.
"There is a difference between Triple-A and the big leagues," Wright said. "He and I had that conversation. The pitches that they swing at out of the zone down there, they lay off of up here. I posed the question, 'What does that say to you?' He said, 'I need to increase my command.'"
In another Minor League pitching development, Rockies chief baseball officer Dan O'Dowd and senior vice president of Major League operations Bill Geivett are spending part of the week with Double-A Tulsa evaluating right-handed pitchers Jon Gray and Eddie Butler, and left-hander Tyler Anderson.
All are recent first-round or supplemental first-round picks. The trip gives Geivett, who usually travels with the Major League team, a chance to see the pitchers in person. And he and O'Dowd can decide when or if to bring them up to the big club this year, as well as the offseason plans.
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.