Rockies Return to Coors Field a Little Snake Bitten

Daniel DaytonContributor IMay 10, 2010

DENVER - APRIL 09:  Brad Hawpe #11 of the Colorado Rockies takes an at bat against the San Diego Padres during MLB action on Opening Day at Coors Field on April 9, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the Padres 7-0.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Rockies return home to their own beds and to their own families to start a 7 game home stand, 3 first with the National League East leading Philadelphia Phillies who are 19-12 on the season so far.  They are leading by 2 games…..drum roll….The Washington Nationals who follow the Phillies into Coors Field for 4 games over the weekend. (The Nats are tied with the New York Mets in 2nd)

The Rockies come off the road trip through their divisional rivals 4-5.  Normally, that’s a mark any Rockies fan would love to have through that trip, which historically isn’t a fun trip to Disneyland for the Rox.  It’s a record I would have taken before the trip started knowing the Rockies would be throwing two rookies into the starting rotation last week, in Esmil Rogers and Jyoulys Chacin.  Both are quality pitchers it turns out, and Chacin has been nails, and will likely stick no matter who comes back from injury.  

Yet, this team still feels a little snake bitten.  Sunday, Rockies ace and phenom, Ubaldo Jimenez threw a great game giving up only 2 hits, and did it with-out his A-game stuff.  And he still LOST.  We knew in our hearts that he wasn’t going to win every start this year.  In fact most of us would have assumed he might even have a few bad games on the way. Sunday’s loss was hard to swallow.  Jimenez did great, but the Rockies bats went silent against pitcher Clayton Kershaw.  Firstbaseman, Todd Helton, went 0 fer 4 with 3 strikeouts.  He was lost like I don’t ever remember seeing him.  The Rockies TV announcers said “He’s not picking the ball up off of Kershaw” and that might be it, but Todd was swinging at air.  It was even painful to watch.  “His swing is a little bit off right now and his timing’s off,” hitting coach Don Baylor said of Helton after the game.  But the next line is a little more in depth: “When you get to a certain age and you go through a drought like this, all of a sudden you’re kind of doubting yourself a little bit. It’s only human. He’s hit some balls good in our ballpark that didn’t go out. And that’s part of the problem, mentally, that he doesn’t have any home runs. But once he gets that first one, things will change.”   Translation:  He’s frustrated, starting to lose a little confidence and is pressing.   That’s not good, and not good to hear about the Rockies aging veteran leader.

Even more painful to watch was Troy Tulowitzki. After turning a double play at 2nd in the 5th inning Tulo came up with a strange hop.  He signaled over to the bench and the trainers came out to look at him.  Turns out he has an injury to his Right Quadriceps muscle. Rockies fans remember that in 2008 Tulo hurt his left quad and missed 6 weeks on the DL, which stuck a fork in the Rockies year.  This one is on the right leg, and it’s not reported to be serious.  There is not even an MRI scheduled as of Monday morning, and the Rockies will examine him on Monday to see how the Quad is.  They are expecting Tulo will sit and miss a few games and right now Tulo is listed as “day to day”. 

This makes a thin bench, even thinner.  With the dead weight of Jason Giambi taking up one roster spot, and basically leaving the Rockies playing with 24 guys, the bench is stretched to the point of barely being able to field a team, well a quality team anyway.  Carlos Gonzalez wasn’t in the line-up on Sunday, as he went to Venezuela to attend a funeral of an Uncle.  It was first reported that CarGo would be gone until Tuesday, but now the latest I’ve heard is he will be returning on Wednesday.  Partial good news is Brad Hawpe is available and is planned to be activated from the DL today.  Who goes to make room for him is up for debate, but it’s either Eric Young Jr. or Seth Smith, even though it should be Giambi.   The Rockies have asked MLB to have CarGo listed as “bereavement leave” and if granted the Rockies can add Hawpe without making a move, though when Gonzalez returns a move will have to be made then. 

It’s going to be interesting for manager Jim Tracy just to fill out that line-up card for a few days.  Expect Eric Young to start at 2nd, and Clint Barmes to start at Shortstop.  Left Field should be Seth Smith (the lefty) and Ryan Spilbourghs (the righty) as a platoon split.  Neither one is exactly tearing up the league.  Smith is batting 232/.274/.464 /738 and Spilly is pretty similar .224/.367/.367/.734. Hawpe will go back to his usual right field position.  This assumes the league grants CarGo’s “bereavement leave” but if they don’t things get even trickier as the Rockies would have to make a move today to add Hawpe. 

One question for Tracy filling out the line-up will be batting order.  I’d assume Ian Stewart moves to the clean-up spot, but if Helton stays in the 3 hole, and Hawpe returns to the 5th, that’s 3 lefties in a row.  Seriously with Tracy it’s anybody’s guess.  Who knows, maybe he’ll have Dinger play first.

The Rockies need to hold things together. But when it rains it pours, literally, as the weather forecast is calling for showers today, more on Tuesday, and more on Wednesday with change we’ll get snow as well as rain.  It’s tough to have this many injuries, and adversity all at once.  It would be nice if the Rockies could play a team that’s not at the top of their division for a change, but like the old saying goes, “to be the best you have to beat the best”, and that’s what the Rockies will try to do this week, even if the Rockies have to do it with one Quadricep tied behind their back.  This Rockies team can’t catch a break.