DENVER -- Rockies reliever Josh Roenicke has gone from a pitcher so stressed about trying to stay in the Majors that he tried to be perfect, to one who seems to relish the times opponents hit off him.Roenicke (1-0, 2.22 ERA) has become dependable because of his ability to overcome traffic on the bases. In 23 appearances, the right-hander sports a 1.33 WHIP, which means he deals with his fair share of runners on base. But he also has forced seven double-play grounders and has held opponents to a .125 batting average with two outs. The production has earned him increased work, sometimes in key situations. It's gratifying for Roenicke, who bounced between Triple-A and the Majors over the last four seasons with the Reds, Blue Jays and Rockies. This season marks his first time on an Opening Day roster, and he appears to be finding his footing, thanks to the confidence he has in his two-seam sinking fastball. "I started throwing a sinker two years ago, and that's really helped me," Roenicke said. "This spring I had a lot of people get on base, but I got a lot of double plays with it, and that helped my confidence." The 29-year-old could make it a little easier on himself by trimming walks -- he entered Friday with 17, against 20 strikeouts. But his ability to erase baserunners with one pitch is not lost on manager Jim Tracy. "He's been a unique surprise for us, in that Josh has been doing some similar things to what [primary righty setup man Matt] Belisle had been doing the last couple of years," Tracy said. "You can use Josh to fill innings. "There's the tendency every once in a while to walk a guy, but then he'll throw a ground ball and there's two outs." Roenicke has the uncommon trait that his best pitch works better at Coors Field than on the road. He has had issues with controlling the movement of the sinker on the road. He has nine walks in 11 2/3 innings on the road, against eight walks in 17 2/3 innings at home. "In the thick air, like Miami [when he walked two of the three batters he faced but didn't give up a run on May 22], it dances too much," Roenicke said. "I fell in love with it, it went in and out of the zone and I walked a couple of guys. Lately I've been throwing a lot of four-seamers, but when guys get on base I'll throw sinkers, guy pull off it a little bit and they hit it to guys so the double play can happen."
Scutaro ready to step up at short with Tulo out
DENVER -- The Rockies' Marco Scutaro was not one of the legion of Venezuelan infielders who felt born to play shortstop and uphold the tradition of Luis Aparicio, Chico Carrasquel, Dave Concepcion and Omar Vizquel.Scutaro was a second baseman and third baseman with the Indians' chain in the mid-90s, when Vizquel held the position for the big club and current D-backs infielder John McDonald was the shortstop in the Minors. It wasn't until he landed with the Mets in 2002 that he added the position. Yet the versatile Scutaro learned it well enough to play a significant number of games there, and play it as the starter for the Athletics, Blue Jays and Red Sox. He'll likely be the Rockies' primary player there with Troy Tulowitzki on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left groin. "I knew when I was in the Minor Leagues, I needed to learn to play short so I could make it in the big leagues as a utility player," said Scutaro, whose start against the Dodgers on Friday night was his 662nd at short in his career -- which accounts for 57 percent of his Major League games. "But I got an opportunity to play it in Oakland because [Bobby] Crosby was hurt for a couple of years. "[Rangers manager] Ron Washington was the infield coach, and I owe him a lot." Rockies manager Jim Tracy said he didn't want the 36-year-old Scutaro to wear down from playing short too much. Chris Nelson, who has played mostly third, and DJ LeMahieu could spell him at short. "I've got to be careful," Tracy said. "You want him to play some shortstop, no question about it. It's a natural position for him. But you don't want to run Marco to the ground." "Wherever Tracy needs me, I'll be ready for it," Scutaro said. "I'll do the job. Shortstop is a little harder on your body than second, especially throwing." Throughout the season, Scutaro was the Rockies' hard-luck player, and that luck has contributed to a .257 batting average. Scutaro had four RBIs in the season's first 45 games, but that had to do with his hitting leadoff. Now in the No. 2 spot behind the sizzling Dexter Fowler, Scutaro went into Friday with five RBIs in his last three games. "My swing is better and I'm finding some holes," Scutaro said. "You want results."
Pacheco making waves wherever slotted
DENVER -- Rockies third baseman Jordan Pacheco has quickly established fearlessness and production in the batter's box.Pacheco began the year on the 25-man roster but went down to Triple-A Colorado Springs in mid-April. But since his return, he has hit .343 with a home run, five doubles, a triple and 12 RBIs. The 26-year-old, who made his debut late last season, has impressed the Rockies most this year with two strikes -- .243 (9-for-37) with two doubles and five RBIs. The average sparkles when considering the team with the highest two-strike average in the Majors is the Dodgers, at .211. "I said this last year when I got this job and watched him in Spring Training, Jordan has probably the best mechanics of anybody on our team, and maybe the organization," Rockies hitting coach Carney Lansford said. "It's just very simple mechanics -- not a lot of movement or extra stuff. He can hit. That's why he's here." A good deal of Pacheco's at-bats have come in the No. 2 hole, where he is 11-for-37 (.297). But he has produced even better in the No. 7 and No. 8 spots, where he is 14-for-43 (.326) with four doubles, a triple and seven RBIs. With catcher Wilin Rosario, who also hits low in the order, leading National League rookies in home runs (7) and second in slugging (.522), it has become a potent bottom of the order.
Tulowitzki's DL stint the safe route for Rox
DENVER -- Rockies manager Jim Tracy believes the club caught shortstop Troy Tulowitzki's left groin strain in time.
Tracy said Tulowitzki felt better Friday than he did Thursday -- the day after he suffered the injury.The fact Tulowitzki is responding to rest and treatment justified the club's decision to place him on the 15-day disabled list, rather than keep him active and hope he returns sooner. The full time on the DL will give Tulowitzki a chance to approach complete health, rather than have to hobble through pain. "I know we've done the right thing, rather than turn this into a day-to-day thing," Tracy said.
Utility man Jonathan Herrera, on the disabled list since May 23 with a right hamstring strain, took ground balls during batting practice Friday, and is moving closer toward an injury rehab assignment.
Herrera, who has been working out with the Rockies and is eligible to return Wednesday, will not accompany the club on its road trip to Arizona next week. Triple-A Colorado Springs is home during that period. Catcher Ramon Hernandez, out since May 24 with a left hand strain, is receiving treatment but has not been cleared to begin baseball activities.
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.