DENVER -- Right-handed pitcher Tyler Chatwood was sent down to Triple-A Colorado Springs after two Major League starts -- one competitive, the other a sparkling six scoreless innings against the Dodgers. His response was eye-catching.
Chatwood struck out eight, walked none and needed 89 pitches on Tuesday night to complete the first nine-inning shutout by a Colorado Springs pitcher at home since 2003. Chatwood held Iowa to four hits in a 5-0 victory.
"It's definitely tough, but I think that's part of it," Chatwood, 23, told The Gazette newspaper in Colorado Springs. "You can't control it. You've just got to go out there and pitch and to keep the pressure on the team to make decisions."
The Rockies sent Chatwood down when the guy he replaced in the rotation, righty Jhoulys Chacin, returned from a back strain. Rockies right-hander Juan Nicasio, who started Wednesday night against the Yankees, and left-hander Jeff Francis, the scheduled starter Thursday afternoon, have struggled to give the Rockies length, so Chatwood hopes to keep forcing the issue.
Rockies manager Walt Weiss made it clear he was paying attention.
"'Chat' is really coming on," Weiss said. "I've always liked his competitiveness. I wasn't around in the past, but even this year in Spring Training it was evident this kid competes. He's got great stuff. It's just a matter of being more efficient and commanding that stuff. I like the way he handles himself."
The choice was between Nicasio and Chatwood when Chacin returned. Now it appears Nicasio is pitching for his spot.
"Regardless of your situation in the big leagues, there's always pressure to perform," Weiss said. "If there's not somebody in your organization that's looking to take your job, there's somebody someplace else. They'll go get somebody to take your job. It's a tough league and you have to perform.
"Juan knows what he's got to do and we've talked about it. He's very similar. There's a lot of good stuff. He's got to be a little more efficient with it."
Rutledge gaining traction in Majors
DENVER -- Rockies second baseman Josh Rutledge, after his first time beginning a year in the Majors, has needed a .400 tear the last seven games to lift his batting average from .200 to .252 going into Wednesday.
Even though Rutledge was struggling, manager Walt Weiss kept him in the lineup, and he believes the patience has paid dividends.
"One thing about Rut is he brings athleticism to the lineup, he runs really well, and he covers some ground at second base," Weiss said. "It's not just the bat. He brings other things to the team every day that he's in the lineup."
Tulowitzki sits again, as Rockies play it safe
DENVER -- Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was hoping the rain Wednesday would intensify. The Rockies decided not to start him against the Yankees, even though his ailing left groin had improved enough for him to feel he could play.
"I'm hoping for a rainout here," he said with a smile.
It was the second straight game against the Yankees and the third time in the last five games that manager Walt Weiss, with input from head athletic trainer Keith Dugger, sat Tulowitzki. On Tuesday, Weiss said the decision would be based more on how Tulowitzki felt than the weather, but he changed his mind as the late-afternoon rain fell.
Tulowitzki ended up pinch-hitting in the eighth inning of the 3-2 loss to the Yankees. He was hit by a pitch on the first pitch he saw, and was promptly pinch-run for.
The caution comes because Tulowitzki suffered a groin injury that limited him to 47 games last season. He underwent surgery in June to remove scar tissue and did not return.
"I felt good [running on Tuesday] but I met with Walt and Doogie, and as soon as I walked in there they knew I wasn't going to be very happy," said Tulowitzki. "But they said, 'Hey, the weather is too much. We don't want to throw you out there.'
" It's probably a smart decision, but when you wake up in the morning and you're like, 'I didn't get to play yesterday and today I'm excited to play,' and it doesn't happen, you're going to be disappointed. But sometimes you've got to listen. We're going to put a good team out there, still, and expect to win."
Weiss said he accepts input from Tulowitzki and appreciates the honesty of the shortstop, but "it's not easy to do. You want to have that guy out there in the middle of your lineup. It's going to be a wet night out there weather-wise. I think an extra day would make sense."
That being the case, it's not clear whether Weiss would feel comfortable using Tulowitzki in Thursday's finale of the three-game series with the Yankees. More rain is expected.
Tulowitzki missed two games last week with a slight left shoulder strain. He returned last Wednesday to go 2-for-4 in a 7-3 victory over the Dodgers. During that game, he felt tightness in the groin after beating out a throw to first base, then going from first to home on Michael Cuddyer's double. He was limited to a pinch-hit appearance Friday against the Rays -- he was walked intentionally and removed before having to run the bases -- then went 5-for-7 with a home run, a double and four RBIs the next two games against the Rays.
Yanks hit pitcher eighth, but Weiss doesn't blink
DENVER -- When the Yankees submitted a lineup with starting pitcher David Phelps batting eighth and catcher Austin Romine hitting ninth, it didn't exactly throw Rockies manager Walt Weiss for a loop.
Weiss played for the Rockies when Cardinals manager Tony La Russa would bat the pitcher eighth back in 1998, to move slugger Mark McGwire up a slot to third to enhance his chances for an extra at-bat later. La Russa would do the same later with Albert Pujols.
La Russa was Weiss' first Major League manager, with the Athletics, and since taking the Rockies job Weiss has talked strategy with La Russa.
As for the decision of Girardi -- once a teammate of Weiss with the Rockies -- Weiss figured it was not his business to comment or analyze.
"I have enough trouble managing my own team," Weiss said. "I'll let Joe manage those guys. It's the first time I've seen it as far as a manager, but I've seen it plenty of times in the past. Tony La Russa did it a lot."
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.