LOS ANGELES -- For a guy who didn't hit a home run in his first college season, Josh Rutledge sure has done a heck of a job hitting the long ball in his first season in the big leagues.
Rutledge hit .369 in 61 games as a freshman at the University of Alabama in 2008 but didn't record a home run. In his first 21 Major League games, he has six, including four in a four-game stretch July 29-Aug. 2.
The 23-year-old says that though his stance has changed a bit, his swing is largely the same as it was during that homerless campaign at Alabama. The difference, he thinks, is the strength he now has behind it.
"Every year I feel like I've been getting a lot stronger in the weight room," Rutledge said. "Each year after [my freshman year] I've been tapping into my power. It still surprises me a little bit sometimes to have the success I've had so far."
Coors Field might have a little to do with it, too.
"I'm sure it does [help] for some of them. But I'm just trying to hit doubles and stuff in the gap," Rutledge said. "Coors just happens to be a nice park to hit at where it travels better, so that could be a part of the success."
Although he says he's sometimes surprised by how much power he's shown so far in his short big league career, Rutledge isn't about to let a homer-happy mentality distract him from doing the things that earned him a callup from Double-A Tulsa earlier this year.
"I'm not going to try to do too much," Rutledge said. "We've got other guys in the lineup that are supposed to drive guys in and hit home runs. I'm not trying to do that, I'm just trying get on base for them."
Rockies get good news on De La Rosa, Chacin
LOS ANGELES -- With all the bad news the Rockies have gotten regarding injuries lately, good news is big news for Colorado when it comes to rehabbing players.
They got a lot of it Tuesday, particularly in regards to their pitching staff, which may yet be bolstered by the returns of Jorge De La Rosa and Jhoulys Chacin this season.
De La Rosa threw 35 pitches before the Rockies' game at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday and worked his changeup into the mix with his fastball for the first time.
"He's progressing, he's moving in the direction we'd like him to go in," manager Jim Tracy said.
After a tough rehab outing with Double-A Tulsa last week, Chacin rebounded Monday night, allowing two runs on four hits while walking none in five innings. That last stat -- no walks -- along with Chacin's consistent velocity, were the most encouraging aspects of the outing for Tracy.
"I said we'd really like to see him step it up a bit, which he did," Tracy said. "The fact of the velocity coming up and the fact that he didn't walk anybody is really, really encouraging."
Tracy said Chacin was sitting around 92 mph and will make his next rehab start with Triple-A Colorado Springs, with the next step in his progress toward the Majors to be determined pending the outcome of that outing.
Neither Chacin nor De La Rosa have been major factors in the Rockies' season so far. De La Rosa hasn't pitched at all after having elbow surgery in 2011, and Chacin has been on the disabled list since May 2 with a nerve issue in his chest. Prior to that, he was 0-3 with a 7.30 ERA in five starts.
Hernandez hopes shutout a boost to Rox pitchers
LOS ANGELES -- It hasn't been an easy year for the Rockies' pitching staff. Injuries and inconsistency have forced Colorado to bring up young arms to learn on the job, while living with the results of the growing pains that inevitably accompany young pitchers carrying much of a pitching staff's load.
So when four Rockies pitchers, led by starter Drew Pomeranz, shut out one of the Majors' most star-studded lineups in Monday night's 2-0 win over the Dodgers on Monday, it was a cause for celebration.
For veteran catcher Ramon Hernandez, who was behind the plate on Monday, it was also a sign of hope.
"To have a nice game like last night, I think it brings everybody's confidence back up," Hernandez said. "It makes them feel like they can shut down any team in baseball -- now they feel more comfortable."
Hernandez, in his 14th season, has been a veteran presence behind the plate charged with helping inexperienced arms navigate Major League lineups. While the results haven't always been there, Hernandez says he's just trying to help his hurlers keep things simple.
"You just give them a lot of confidence -- they're here because they have the stuff that can work here," Hernandez said. "Do what you normally do, because what you did in the Minors is why you're here. You're gonna get caught up in everything going on here, but try to control that and have confidence."
Part of the reason Monday night's shutout was such a boost to the Colorado staff, however, is that many of those young arms have struggled at times.
"I think you learn more from the mistakes when you make them," Hernandez said. "I tell them to keep a strong mentality when you're down -- every inning you pitch you learn something, and every pitch you throw means something. If you try your best, sometimes it's going to go your way and sometimes it doesn't, but you keep a strong mentality."
Chelsea Janes is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.