The injury to Tulowitzki couldn’t have come at a worse time
for either club. The Rockies sit 4.0 games back
in the NL West and Wildcard race while the Sky Sox are likewise fighting to reclaim the
top spot in the Pacific North. At 3.0 games back in the division, the Sky Sox
are furiously trying to make up the ground lost on their disastrous 8-game
losing streak three weeks ago.
With his promotion, Nelson is likely to see significant time
at second base while also slotting in at shortstop to spell Clint Barmes.
Former Sky Sox standout Jonathan Herrera also stands to see an uptick in
playing due to the injury, as Herrera and Barmes were the final two true middle
infielders remaining on the Rockies roster prior to Nelson’s promotion. Super-utilityman Melvin Mora also figures to see increased at-bats.
Nelson will be sorely missed in his absence from the Sky Sox
roster, which judging by the severity of Tulowitzki’s injury, could be as long
as six weeks. Since being reinstated from the
disabled list on May 8, Nelson had compiled a .311 average with five home runs
and 20 RBI in 132 at-bats. Nelson will be replaced by Eider Torres, who was
called up from AA Tulsa after batting .272 in 103 at-bats.
Rehabbing Rockies closer Huston Street was perfect for the Sky Sox in Friday night’s rehab appearance – his most recent step in recovering from a right shoulder injury. Throwing 12 pitches, eight for strikes, Street made quick work of the top of Reno’s order. Inducing weak groundouts from Doug Deeds and Cole Gillespie while striking out Drew Macias, the reliever looked very sharp.
The appearance was Street’s first of the year for the Sky Sox, and his first since suspending his rehabilitation after suffering a strained groin for Tulsa on May 15. Street also missed time last season with a biceps injury, absent for 18 games in September.
The start represents a significant step in Street returning to the Rockies’ bullpen – the pitcher had thrown to live batters on Wednesday as a precursor to today’s start. Street is expected to make at least three more appearances before being evaluated as to his next move.
Relieving Street was starter Esmil Rogers, who was recently sent down to make room for Franklin Morales. Rogers had been a pleasant surprise for the Rockies, throwing 19.2 IP with 14 strikeouts in his second taste of big league action. Rogers had begun the year on the Rockies’ Opening Day roster before being returned to the Sky Sox on April 19. Rogers was subsequently recalled on May 1, before being reassigned to the Sky Sox today.
Sent down from Denver, Dexter Fowler made his long awaited Sky
Sox debut on Monday - having skipped
over AAA on his way to the bigs in 2009.
Jonathan Herrera was called up to fill his roster spot,
providing depth to the Rockies’ struggling middle infield. With starting second
baseman Clint Barmes batting a paltry .219 and incumbent backup middle
infielder Melvin Mora homerless in 66 at-bats, the Rockies thought it was time
for a change – Herrera called upon to provide a boost. Having hit .286 with a
home run and 20 walks in 168 AAA at-bats, Herrera fueled the Sky Sox offense
from the leadoff spot.
He should be ready for the challenge.
Fowler, on the other hand, was sent down to work on his
swing – the toolsy outfielder having hit just .216 with one homer in 139
at-bats. Making the decision easier was the emergence of former Sky Sox outfielder
Seth Smith, who, while splitting time with Fowler, has hit .268 with eight
homers in 127 at-bats this season.
The addition of Fowler, though coming at the loss of
Herrera, has been a long time coming for Sox fans. This being the first time
Fowler will don a uniform at Security Service Field, Sox fans will finally get
to see the former top prospect in action. And, if his Monday debut was any
indication (4-for-4, 4R, HR, 3RBI, 2B, 2BB), Sox fans will love every minute of
Still, the move is problematic for the Sox’ roster makeup.
Now with five outfielders all deserving of full-time at-bats (Fowler, Jay
Payton, Chris Frey, Cole Garner, Matt Miller), the logjam may make it difficult
for batters on the short end of the playing time stick to find their groove -
hurting their ability to produce for the team. In addition, the loss of Herrera
leaves the club without a backup middle infielder, leaving Chris Nelson and Kaz
Matsui to pick up the slack and tough it out on days where they would normally
Exciting as the acquisition is, manager Stu Cole has some
serious roster juggling awaiting him to ensure that all players receive plate
appearances and develop properly. Alleviating the problem somewhat are 17
consecutive games against American League affiliates following the conclusion
of the current series against Reno. The DH will be required in these matches,
freeing up more at-bats for the spare outfielders. Nevertheless, the club’s
lineup construction will be a very interesting discussion point over the next