DENVER -- With the Rockies' strongest pitcher, lefty Jorge De La Rosa, starting Tuesday night against the D-backs in the opener of a 10-game homestand, manager Walt Weiss opted for the defense of Charlie Culberson at third base over the hot bat of Corey Dickerson.
Dickerson homered in the final two games at Cleveland and was one of few Rockies with decent offensive numbers on a 2-7 road trip -- .333 (6-for-18) with five walks, five runs, two homers, a double and three RBIs. He entered Tuesday's game in the top of the sixth, replacing injured outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.
But in Cleveland, the Rockies moved right fielder Michael Cuddyer to third base -- where the team is missing Nolan Arenado (broken left middle finger) possibly until late June -- for the final two games in an offense-oriented move. The Rockies are carrying six outfielders, including Dickerson, and Weiss could play five of them. Dickerson played designated hitter.
Cuddyer, who hadn't played the third since 2010, handled the job without incident. But Culberson is an infielder by trade, which could help De La Rosa. However, Culberson is hitting .185.
Weiss said the Cuddyer move was never meant to be permanent.
"It's something I'll mess around with a little bit; I'll mix and match," Weiss said. "'Cuddy' will get some time at third. I talked to him when Nolan went down, told him that was one of the options I was thinking about. It's not going to be every day but that will still be one of the options moving forward."
Dickerson (.341, seven homers, 16 RBIs in 37 games) believes he has a rhythm that he can maintain even if he doesn't start the occasional game.
"Those at-bats I got on the road trip, I got a good bit," Dickerson said. "I'm not at 100 at-bats [85 for the season] but I got a lot of solid at-bats in a row and I got to see a lot of pitches in Philly, walking some. I felt pretty good about it. That's just how it is right now. I feel I can play that role.
"I look at the future. I know I'll be an everyday guy sooner or later. Right now I'm just going to play my part and help this team win. The way I'm playing is pleasing to me. It's not whether I'm playing or not, it's picking up my teammates and dong the little things right."
Weiss said, "'Dickie' is gonna be in there, he's gonna get his at bats. There's going to be some different combinations, but 'Dickie' is going to get his at bats."
Culberson's has made some strong defensive plays but realizes he has to make offensive progress. He went 4-for-22 with eight strikeouts and one intentional walk in 23 plate appearances during the road trip.
"Striking out is never fun," Culberson said. "You're in the big leagues. You're going to face good arms. It's kind of coming down to swinging at good pitches, swinging at balls in the zone and trying not to do too much."
CarGo further bothered by finger, could head to DL
DENVER -- Rockies left fielder Carlos Gonzalez left Tuesday night's 4-2 loss to the D-backs with the same swelling problem in his left index finger, and the same answers -- none.
The possible answer is a stint on the 15-day disabled list, which manager Walt Weiss said is a possibility since the swelling from a broken blood vessel has forced Gonzalez to leave three games and miss four starts. But Gonzalez visited with noted hand specialist Dr. Thomas Graham in Cleveland on Thursday and learned not only was there no surgical answer, but it's not even clear how much rest will allow the injury to repair.
"They've said [rest] might not help," Gonzalez said, who felt pain from the first pitch in his first at-bat. "I really don't know what to do right now at this point. It's just really hard. It's even harder for me to come out of the game over and over again."
Gonzalez grounded out softly against D-backs starter Chase Anderson in the second inning and struck out meekly in the fourth before being replaced by Corey Dickerson for the top of the fifth. With a .255 batting average, a chronic finger problem to go with chronic left knee tendinitis, Gonzalez is a two-time All-Star whose health is making him a liability.
Weiss said the Rockies have to make a decision soon.
"We'll check in with him [Wednesday]," Weiss said. "We're at a point now that we'll have to make a decision to see what's best for him and our club.
"It's bugging him whether he makes contact or misses. I think it's worse when he makes contact."
The injury became an issue on May 1, when Gonzalez felt swelling and pain after fouling off a pitch during an at-bat that finished with a home run off Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon. He missed one start. Gonzalez was slumping before the injury and dealing with the tendinitis that first showed up last season.
Gonzalez aggravated the injury on May 21 against the Giants and missed three games. To add to the injury list, Gonzalez fouled a pitch off his right calf May 27 at Philadelphia and was limited to one pinch-hit appearance in the next game. He homered in the following game, but went 0-for-10 before leaving Monday's game.
It's the second straight year of pain and frustration because of a finger injury. Last July 7, Gonzalez sustained a torn ligament in his right middle finger while taking a swing in Arizona. At the time of the injury he was hitting .304 and leading the National League with 24 home runs. From July 10 to season's end, he appeared in just 24 games, including 16 starts, and batted .291 with two homers and seven RBIs.
Butler to make first big league start Friday vs. Dodgers
DENVER -- Rockies right-handed pitching prospect Eddie Butler will make his Major League debut on Friday night against the Dodgers at Coors Field.
"It could be a shot in the arm for us," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said Tuesday night, after the Rockies' season-high losing streak extended to five games with a 4-2 home loss to the D-backs. "He's a talented kid. I've heard a lot about him.
"I've been anticipating his arrival at the big league level and we'll see it Friday night. He's a young kid with a big arm. There's a lot of on-the-job training to be done -- for anybody -- but certainly he's a younger, talented kid."
A supplemental first-round Draft pick chosen 46th overall in 2012 out of Radford University, Butler is 4-4 with a 2.49 ERA in 11 starts at Double-A Tulsa. The Rockies declined to immediately make an official announcement, but Butler will take the spot of left-hander Franklin Morales (3-6, 6.03 ERA in 12 games, 11 starts) in the Rockies' rotation.
Butler, who turns 23 on June 13, entered the season with a 1.91 ERA in 41 professional games at the Rookie, Class A and Double-A levels. Last year, he had an organization-best 1.80 ERA in 28 starts at Class A Asheville, Class A Advanced Modesto and Tulsa. The Rockies invited him to Major League Spring Training, where he went 0-0 with a 3.86 ERA in three games covering seven innings.
Butler entered the season the as the No. 33 prospect in the Minor Leagues as ranked by MLB.com.
Butler's work this season at Tulsa has ranged from strong to outstanding, with the exception of his most recent start. He had not given up an earned run in three starts covering 19 2/3 inning before giving up seven hits and two walks and lasting 4 2/3 innings, with three runs (two earned) against Midland on Saturday.
The Rockies are in need of rotation help.
Morales, a reliever for most of his career with the Rockies and Red Sox, won a rotation job coming out of Spring Training, but as he struggled he remained in the rotation out of necessity with left-hander Brett Anderson (broken left index finger) and right-hander Tyler Chatwood (strained right flexor tendon) on the 60-day disabled list.
Morales has been plagued by the walk (26 in 43 innings) and the home run (13). However, he could move to the bullpen. On Tuesday, the Rockies began a 10-game homestand and the team often increases its bullpen by one for lengthy stints at Coors Field. He could be serviceable against left-handed batters, who are hitting .250 with three home runs in 84 plate appearances against him.
Weiss said Morales was available out of the bullpen Tuesday night.
Tulo brushes aside home/road split stats
DENVER -- Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is considered the face of the Rockies franchise, which means he often has to face scrutiny of his home-road batting splits.
Tulowitzki entered Tuesday leading the Majors with a .350 batting average, and fans confirmed how they feel about him. He leads not only all National League players but all Major Leaguers in votes for the July 15 All-Star Game at Minnesota.
But the numbers-oriented crowd looks at his batting average differential -- .521 at home to .234 on the road. Tulowitzki's OPS, the all-telling on-base percentage plus slugging percentage, is an off-the-charts 1.559 at home. But his .804 on the road is quite respectable, despite the low batting average.
"We understand that we do play well at home, so take advantage of that. Then when the road comes to us, we'll deal with it. But right now I've learned from years in the past," Tulowitkzi said. "There have been years when I've been really equal, road and home. It's just a matter of time. I really believe I've just had some of my better swings at home and on the road run into some tough pitching and one of those slumps you fall into for a week or something.
"It happened to be on the road instead of at home. I'd love for those numbers to switch and I expect they will."
Tulowitzki has developed a tough enough skin not to let any possible criticsm define him.
"Anything you do in this game, there are so many numbers out there, somebody's always going to have something to say or ask," he said. "Sometimes it just depends on the matchups, guys you see well you might be facing at home, guys that you don't pick up well you might be facing on the road."