WASHINGTON -- For the last several days, since gaining confidence that the left middle finger he fractured has healed, third baseman Nolan Arenado has been driving the Rockies crazy trying to talk his way back into the lineup.
But Arenado will get his wish Thursday, and the Rockies will be glad to see him.
The Rockies plan to activate Arenado, 23, the 2013 National League Gold Glove Award winner as a rookie and an All-Star voting frontrunner this year before suffering the injury May 23, for Thursday night's game against the Dodgers. The return of Arenado, who was scheduled for the fifth game of his rehab assignment at Triple-A Colorado Springs on Wednesday, heralds the start of a four-game series with the second-place team in the NL West and a 10-game homestand going into the All-Star break.
"It feels like he's been out a long time, and I guess he has," said Rockies manager Walt Weiss, who laughed off Arenado's pleas to play and stuck to the advice of the trainers and medical staff. "Having Nolan in the lineup makes our club better. That's nothing against the guys that have filled in for him. They've done a solid job, but Nolan is having an All-Star-type year."
There is other hopeful injury news. Left fielder Carlos Gonzalez will take batting practice on the field Thursday and is pushing toward an injury rehab assignment after recovering from surgery to remove a tumor from his left index finger. Right-handed starting prospect Eddie Butler will throw a live batting practice session on Saturday and could be a candidate for a rehab assignment. Finally, if lefty Boone Logan checks out fine after appearing for Colorado Springs on Wednesday, he could be activated after a day or so of rest.
Lefty Brett Anderson, who made just three starts before suffering a broken left index finger, was scheduled Wednesday for his first injury rehab start. He was to throw 60-65 pitches for Colorado Springs.
The Rockies had 10 players on the DL going into Wednesday, and the news of the day was righty Jhoulys Chacin -- who hasn't been right all year -- will decide next week whether to undergo surgery on his right shoulder, and possibly a lengthy rehab.
Seeing the peppy Arenado and actually being able to insert him into the lineup should be a lift for a club that has struggled through injuries and less-than-desirable results.
"When guys are injured and they come back, it helps the guys that are out there every day," Weiss said.
Anderson pleased with latest rehab start
WASHINGTON -- Rockies left-handed starter Brett Anderson, in his first action under game conditions since breaking his left index finger on April 12, threw strikes on 39 of his 59 pitches in an injury rehab start for Triple-A Colorado Springs on Wednesday night against Oklahoma City.
Anderson, whose start fell in the range the Rockies were seeking, yielded no runs, gave up two hits, struck out four and walked one.
"I was a little rusty here and there, got to too many three-ball counts and some counts I had to pitch out of a little bit," Anderson told The Gazette newspaper in Colorado Springs. "But as far as the first rehab start back and how it went, I'm pretty pleased with it.
"The hand feels good, foot feels good [he battled a foot issue while with the Athletics last year], arm feels good. So I'll check off all the checks and balances and move on to my next one."
Anderson touched 90 mph with his fastball, which he said was fine for the first rehab start. The next start is set for the 70-75 pitch range for Colorado Springs at Round Rock. His third outing is 80-85, and there's a possibility that one will be in the Majors as opposed to the Minors.
"If I need it, I know I've got a little more in the tank, but I'm obviously not going to try to blow anybody away when I'm just trying to come back and get healthy," Anderson told The Gazette. "But I felt healthy and like I had a little extra in there and it's a positive step in the right direction. Hopefully -- and no offense to these guys -- I won't have to make too many more of these and I'll get back to Coors soon."
Morneau would cherish return to All-Star Game
WASHINGTON -- Rockies first baseman Justin Morneau hasn't been on the radar of fans making votes for the National League squad for the All-Star Game, but he has his club pushing for him. In recent days, manager Walt Weiss and several teammates have campaigned for Morneau to be included in the Midsummer Classic.
There are sentimental reasons. Morneau was a longtime Twins star, and the game is being played at Target Field. But statistical reasons outweigh those. Morneau went into Wednesday night's game against the Nationals hitting .339 with 13 home runs and 58 RBIs.
Some of his best hitting occurred, and some of his team's most impassioned campaigning, during a home series against the Cardinals -- who happen to be led by NL All-Star manager Mike Matheny, who has a voice in the reserves. Teammate Troy Tulowitzki, who leads all NL players in voting and is a shoo-in to be elected the starter at shortstop, has said he would include Morneau in the Home Run Derby in front of his old home fans.
Morneau made the All-Star Game four straight seasons with the Twins (2007-10), but it was in 2010 that he suffered a concussion that slowed his career.
"That's good to hear," Morneau said. "When I was younger, I might've taken it a little for granted. When you play at a certain level you expect yourself to continue playing at that level. When you go through some tough times, you're able to appreciate it a little bit more. It would be something special to be able to go back there, especially to Minnesota.
"I always appreciated being at the game. You pinch yourself when you're on the same team as [David] Ortiz, Ichiro [Suzuki] and [Derek] Jeter, the best players in the game. It was just something I kind of expected myself to always do. I'll have a little more appreciation if I'm able to go back."
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 9:59 p.m. MT. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15 on FOX.
Tulowitzki, LeMahieu turn unbelievable double play
WASHINGTON -- The Rockies' middle infield of DJ LeMahieu and sure-to-be All-Star Game starting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki pulled off a Harlem Globetrotters routine in the bottom of the first inning against the Nationals on Wednesday night.
With the Nationals' Denard Span on first after a leadoff single, Anthony Rendon's hard grounder skipped off the mound behind pitcher Tyler Matzek and toward center field when a sliding LeMahieu made a backhanded grab, then flipped the ball to second without transferring it to his throwing hand.
There, Tulowitzki did it without his glove. He grabbed the ball in his bare hand while facing center field, pirouetted, then made a spot-on relay throw to first base.
The Rockies have struggled lately, having lost 13 of their last 15 games going into Wednesday, but when healthy, they have a strong defense. The play displayed the type of infield dazzle expected of Tulowitzki, a two-time Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner, and LeMahieu, who earned the Rockies' Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award based on statistical formulas last season.
Rockies acquire former All-Star Jurrjens from Reds
WASHINGTON -- The Rockies acquired right-hander Jair Jurrjens, a one-time All-Star Game participant, from the Reds in a Minor League deal on Wednesday.
Jurrjens, 28, who represented the Braves in the 2011 All-Star Game, but has bounced between the Majors and Minors since, went 2-3 with a 4.46 era in six starts with Triple-A Louisville after signing with the Reds in May. Jurrjens is scheduled to report to Triple-A Colorado Springs, but he provides depth for a Rockies team that already has used 12 starting pitchers this season.
The Rockies sent Double-A Tulsa second baseman Harold Riggins (.263, seven homers, 25 RBIs) to the Reds.
Jurrjens has undergone multiple knee surgeries since 2011, and those helped lead to his decline. But with the Rockies having raced through their depth because of multiple injuries -- they currently have six starters on the disabled list -- they took a flyer on Jurrjens. The Rockies had interest in swinging a deal for Jurrjens at the height of his career, but it never materialized, and his name has come up at other times since.
"When he was having his success was when I was away from the game, so I didn't get to see him firsthand, but obviously I've gotten a lot of information on him," manager Walt Weiss said. "He's had some health issues, but not necessarily tied to his arm, but some lower-half issues, which is a good thing if you're a pitcher.
"We're very young right now on the mound. Guys are doing their best. They're battling. But it does help to have a guy with some experience that's got the ball in his hand, dictating like a pitcher does."
Jurrjens is 53-39 with a 3.63 ERA in 128 Major League games with the Braves and the Orioles (two games last season, 0-0, 4.31 ERA).
At Louisville, Jurrjens faced heavy traffic on the bases, with 42 hits and 13 walks in 34 1/3 innings, but he struck out 27. In his last two starts, he threw 13 1/3 innings and gave up three runs on 15 hits and five walks, with eight strikeouts.