DENVER -- The Rockies optioned right-handed reliever Wilton Lopez to Triple-A Colorado Springs on Wednesday, the morning after seeing him give up eight hits, including three home runs, and six runs in two-thirds of an inning in a 15-3 loss to the White Sox.
The Rockies went into the season believing Lopez, whom they acquired from the Astros before last season, had corrected some of the problems that negated his sinker last year, when he went 3-4 with a 4.06 ERA in a team-high 75 appearances. But the problems have continued this season, to the tune of an 11.37 ERA and 18 hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Manager Walt Weiss tried pitching Lopez in low-leverage situations, hoping he'd find consistency. Without a sinker, batters are not respecting any secondary pitch. Lopez's struggles also have been a magnet for fan disgruntlement.
The Rockies have to ignore financial concerns with the move. Lopez avoided arbitration with a one-year, $2.2 million contract signing during the offseason, and will be paid at the Major League rate while in the Minors.
"Just really get to the point where he believes in his sinker, and he's able to get it to dive to the bottom of the zone," Weiss said. "That's why we pursued him like we did, why he profiled so well for us.
"He's very durable, very versatile and he's very valuable. But it's time for him to go down and get some things ironed out, away from the high stakes that are up here. He's got a track record. I still believe in him, even though he still struggled at times."
The Rockies called up middle infielder Josh Rutledge from Colorado Springs, to go from 13 pitchers to 12 for their upcoming National League West road trip to San Francisco and San Diego. Rutledge hit .389 (7-for-18) in five games in Triple-A.
Rutledge gives the Rockies an extra middle infielder, which could be important. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki had been strong with the bat, but he's also dealing with tightness in his right hamstring.
During Wednesday's 10-4 victory, Rutledge had an RBI single and scored a run as pinch-hitter in the club's six-run eighth inning.
Rockies evaluating pitching staff moves
DENVER -- The Rockies are contemplating the chain reaction of roster decisions that will come when they activate right-hander Tyler Chatwood, most likely to start on Sunday against the Giants at AT&T Park.
Chatwood, who began to establish himself in 2013 when he went 8-5 with a 3.15 ERA in 20 starts after beginning the year at Triple-A Colorado Springs, sustained a slight left hamstring strain during his final Spring Training start. He struck out eight and gave up five hits in 6 1/3 innings for Colorado Springs at Round Rock in an rehab start on Tuesday night.
Right-hander Jordan Lyles replaced Chatwood and is 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA, and appears to have earned more starts. Lefty Franklin Morales (0-1, 6.94 ERA) has a history of relief pitching, which means the Rockies will have to make a corresponding move either with a reliever or with a position player. They went from 13 pitchers to 12 on Wednesday by optioning righty Wilton Lopez to Colorado Springs and recalling infielder Josh Rutledge.
Manager Walt Weiss said the club will evaluate Chatwood before activating him. He allowed that Lyles has forced the issue.
"When a guy performs well, it's a bottom-line business," Weiss said. "We'll take all that into consideration, what's the best setup for our club."
Chacin building up toward rehab assignment
DENVER -- Rockies right-hander Jhoulys Chacin took a step forward by handling a short simulated game on Tuesday at the team's complex in Scottsdale, Ariz., as he continues his comeback from a shoulder strain that landed him on the disabled list to start the regular season.
Chacin will build up to 50 pitches before going on a rehab assignment, and ideally will be able to throw in the Majors when he can throw 90 pitches in a game, Rockies pitching coach Jim Wright said. An exact return date hasn't been set.
"He threw OK, fine, and he's still building up," Wright said.
Chacin said Wednesday that he will start an extended spring game on Friday, which will be his first game action. He was shut down before even throwing a bullpen session in Spring Training.
"Everything is fine now," he said. 'I'm feeling that the ball is coming out of my hand well."
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.