Notes: Carroll moved to leadoff
Keppel grateful to Mets; Helton helps fight breast cancer
NEW YORK -- The Rockies went all the way back to last year in hopes of improving their performance from the leadoff position.Second baseman Jamey Carroll, who tied the Dodgers' Rafael Furcal for tops among National League leadoff hitters with a .372 on-base percentage last season, revisited the No. 1 position for Monday night's game against the Mets. Center fielder Steve Finley batted second. Primary leadoff man Willy Taveras, Finley and Carroll on a limited basis -- four at-bats -- combined for a .233 on-base percentage, next-to-last in the NL. Only the Dodgers' .218 was worse. Manager Clint Hurdle said it was more a function of the lineup. With Carroll batting right-handed and Finley batting left, the Rockies can go right-left for the first seven spots in the order. "I'm just looking for more balance in the lineup," Hurdle said. "Carroll's on-base percentage over his career and last season speaks for itself." Carroll has started the last eight games at second since Kazuo Matsui went to the disabled list with back spasms. He has hit just .188 in those games to drop to .244, but he has a .333 on-base percentage for the season and has had healthy at-bats. Before joining the Rockies last season, Carroll had just 93 leadoff at-bats for the Expos-Nationals club, but adjusted well to the top of the order. "I ended up taking more pitches at different parts of the game than normal, but mainly I became very comfortable with my approach," Carroll said. "I'm trying to find that again this year." Finally here: The last time Rockies right-hander Bobby Keppel was at Shea Stadium, he was signing with the Mets after being their No. 1 draft pick (36th overall) in 2000. Injuries kept him from ever appearing in a Mets uniform. But he debuted in the Majors with the Royals last season. He joined the Rockies during the offseason and was called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Saturday. Keppel, 24, who battled a chest strain and shoulder tendinitis in 2004 and missed most of 2005 with a shoulder problem that required surgery, said he was thankful for his time with the Mets. "A lot of the reason I'm here is because of them teaching me and helping me develop my talent," Keppel said. "I give them a lot of credit. I just got injured. My scout, Larry Chase, and those guys had faith in me. "I'm sure when they drafted me, they hoped I'd be on their side, but things worked out for them and me." For a cause: First baseman Todd Helton is representing the Rockies in a program that is raising money for breast cancer-related charities. Fans can purchase a pink baseball bat for $99 or a set of two pink baseballs -- one has the Rockies' logo and top historical moments, the other has Helton's likeness -- for $59.95. The bat is a 34-inch Rawlings model, and the handle can be personalized. The program is being done in cooperation with five teams/players in four cities. Others are the Cardinals and Albert Pujols, the Cubs and Derrek Lee, the White Sox and Paul Konerko, and the Red Sox and Daisuke Matsuzaka. For more information, call 1-800-345-2868 or visit www.nickosports.com, and purchases are tax deductable. Money from Rockies/Helton sales will go to Colorado breast cancer charities. On the Rox: Clint Barmes started for the third straight game at shortstop. Hurdle said rookie Troy Tulowitzki, who hit .193 in his first 16 appearances, would likely return to the lineup Tuesday. ... Right-hander Byung-Hyun Kim pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings Sunday for Triple-A Colorado Springs against Portland in his first rehab start (bruised right thumb), but Hurdle noted that the inconsistency and problems with left-handed hitters that were an issue when he was with the big club were still present. "The report I got was it was a fair outing. ... The biggest thing was he was healthy," Hurdle said. ... Left-hander Tom Martin, also on rehab at Colorado Springs (strained groin), is scheduled to make his fifth rehab appearance for the Sky Sox on Tuesday. That could change depending on game situations. "He's gotten better," said Hurdle, who spoke with Martin on Sunday. "He's not on a timetable. Basically, it's all about pitch execution now." Up next: Right-hander Aaron Cook (0-1, 4.00 ERA) will start for the Rockies against Mets righty Orlando Hernandez (2-1, 3.24) at Shea Stadium on Tuesday at 5:10 p.m. MT.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.