DENVER -- Needing to bolster their bullpen, the Rockies designated outfielder Eric Young Jr. for assignment before Wednesday night's game against the Nationals and recalled right-hander pitcher Chris Volstad from Triple-A Colorado Springs.
The Rockies have 10 days to trade, release or assign Young to the Minors.
With the Rockies dealing with various pitching injuries and two games into 13 days without a day off, the need to bolster pitching was clear. The back end of the bullpen has undergone shuffling since right-hander Rafael Betancourt went on the 15-day disabled list on June 2 with a groin injury, and the Rockies announced Tuesday that middle reliever Edgmer Escalona would be on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation.
In addition, righty Tyler Chatwood missed his last start with a right arm issue and left-hander Jorge De La Rosa is being watched closely because of a cut left middle finger.
Volstad made the Opening Day roster and was 0-0 with an 8.53 ERA in four games before being optioned to Colorado Springs on April 19, and went 3-1 with a 5.31 ERA in eight Triple-A starts. The hope is Volstad can help a staff that's already been affected by long stretches of games at home and in hitters' parks on the road, with Interleague road series at Toronto and Boston on the horizon.
The pitching is important for the Rockies, who entered Wednesday 35-30, second in the National League West, one game behind the D-backs.
"What precipitated this was the need to add a pitcher of length," said Bill Geivett, the Rockies' senior vice president of Major League operations. "We're in a stretch of 15-of-18 at home, and the three on the road were in Cincinnati. Then we're going to go to Toronto. The level of pitching we've had, we're trying to keep that intact as best we can."
Young, 28, a 30th-round pick in the 2003 MLB First-Year Player Draft, found big league traction by hitting .316 in 98 games last year before suffering an oblique injury that ended his season early. This year, he won a roster spot in Spring Training. He posted a.242 batting average and took a step backward defensively in the outfield. Young was a second baseman before being moved into the outfield in 2009.
Also, outfielder Tyler Colvin, after a long stint in Colorado Springs to find his swing, has been an immediate contributor since being called up Saturday. Like the switch-hitting Young, Colvin plays all three outfield positions.
"There's been an attachment to 'E.Y.' since he showed up, in the Minor Leagues and all the things that he's done," Geivett said. "It's not only his toughness, but his energy level and that he's a tremendous person. He's got to be one of my all-time favorites as a guy and a competitor and all that. And his performance last year before he got hurt was tremendous, and he performed well in Spring Training."
Young is son of Eric Young, who forever became a fan favorite during the team's inaugural home game at Mile High Stadium on April 4, 1993, when he led off the bottom of the first with a home run off the Expos' Kent Bottenfield in the Rockies' 11-4 victory.
Eric Young Jr. has been a fan favorite with his hustle, as well as his fan interaction and charity work.
Young Jr. Tweeted: "Best wishes to the Rockies organization. Thank you for my time with you. Truly a blessing to be with the city of Denver. Thank you all for the support. Love you all. Always have faith in the man upstairs and in yourselves. #blessings Phil 4:13"
Rockies manager Walt Weiss, a teammate of Young's father who watched Young Jr. grow up from a clubhouse perspective, said the move touched him.
"Extremely difficult," Weiss said. "I've known him a long time. He's almost like another son to me. A really tough day, from that aspect."
Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said: "It always makes it tough when a guy has known only one organization, such as E.Y. You feel for him, but at the same time, you've got to look at it as hopefully he gets an opportunity with a team, and whoever gets him is getting a good guy."
Tulo credits success to good approach, staying even
DENVER -- The balance of hitting for power and average is difficult, but Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is making it look easy.
Tulowitzki entered Wednesday night's game against the Nationals leading the National League with a .353 batting average. The only Major Leaguer with a higher average was the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera, at .363. Tulowitzki also led the NL in slugging at .651, and had 14 home runs and was tied for third in the league in RBIs with teammate Carlos Gonzalez with 51.
"I'm trying to have good at-bats, and when I get to two strikes, having a good two-strike approach," Tulowitzki said. "I'm coming to the field every day with a plan of how I'm going to attack that pitcher. I'm not getting too frustrated when either I hit into a hard out or I run into a rough patch. Everything kind of works together.
"I've been doing a good job of trying to slow the game down and not letting it speed up on me."
Tulowitzki's otherworldly swing is mostly responsible, but he insists he's not totally alone in the batter's box. Rockies bullpen catcher Pat Burgess, a teammate at Long Beach State, is the person he talks to most about hitting. He has also has done work with batting-practice pitcher Garrett Carson, and he says first-year hitting coach Dante Bichete has been a breath of fresh air.
Most of the time, little is said.
"They don't really come to me anymore -- it's more me seeking out them and getting little bits here and there," Tulowitzki said. "And if they see something, they know when to say it. That's the good thing about being around for a couple of years. They know when to talk to me and when to leave me alone. More than anything, a hitting coach is being a friend of a guy more than telling him what to do physically."
Bichette said he enjoys his talks with Tulowitzki. Because the Rockies' coaching philosophy is to trust players' athletic ability and trust them to prepare, Bichette and Tulowitzki talk as equals.
"I love talking to Tulo about hitting," Bichette said. "I love learning as much as teaching. He's a great player. We talked a little bit in Spring Training about swing plane, and that's the last time we really talked about his swing.
"He's a relentless preparer, and he's been doing it long enough to know what he's got to get done."
Tulowitzki said his comfort level is as high as it has ever been.
"It takes a lot of work," Tulowitzki said. "You have to have a lot of good guys with you, whether it be teammates watching your swing to keep you on track, certain guys in the clubhouse. A good hitting coach also helps. Dante's always been great. Pat really helps me out. I give those two guys credit, as well.
"My teammates have helped me. You can't put up good numbers without them being on base."
Cuddyer slated to return for series finale with Nats
DENVER -- The Rockies decided to postpone right fielder Michael Cuddyer's return to the lineup a day, so he'll start Thursday afternoon's finale of a three-game set with the Nationals.
Cuddyer suffered bruised ribs in a collision at first base last Thursday night and hasn't played since, although on Tuesday he was available for pinch-hit duty. Manager Walt Weiss said the extra day simply made sense.
"Cuddy is feeling much better, but yesterday was the first physical day he had -- swinging the bat off a live arm -- and things went well," Weiss said. "We'll give him one more day, especially since tomorrow is a day game, as opposed to running him out there tonight, then turning around and doing it again tomorrow. We'll give it another 24 hours."
The decision meant another start against a right-handed pitcher for left-handed-hitting Tyler Colvin, who was called up Saturday, had two good days off the bench, then hit two home runs Tuesday in his first start -- an 8-3 victory over the Nationals. He started against righty Dan Haren on Tuesday, and his start Wednesday was against righty Ross Ohlendorf.
The Nationals will start lefty Ross Detweiler on Thursday afternoon - a good matchup for Cuddyer, who is hitting .339 with 10 home runs and 37 RBIs overall, and .326 off left-handers.
Chatwood given extra day to rest triceps, elbow
DENVER -- Right-hander Tyler Chatwood, who hasn't pitched since suffering inflammation of tissue in the right triceps and elbow area during his last start on June 3, is slated to start Saturday against the Phillies, instead of Friday as originally announced. Juan Nicasio will get the Friday start, instead of going on Saturday.
Manager Walt Weiss made the announcement Wednesday. Chatwood threw a bullpen session on Tuesday and reported no undue soreness Wednesday. That was the last hurdle to returning him to the rotation.
Chatwood (3-1, 2.14 ERA in six starts) left his start against the Reds after giving up one run in four innings, and was tagged with the decision in the Rockies' 3-0 loss.
Nicasio (4-2, 4.61 ERA) was perfect for 5 1/3 innings Sunday before giving up two runs in the sixth and exiting the eventual 8-7 victory over the Padres.
Fowler, Rockies to host charity bowling event
DENVER -- Rockies outfielder Dexter Fowler will be among the hosts for a Bowling Bash charity event at Denver's Punch Bowl Social at 65 Broadway in Denver on Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. MT.
Rockies fans and bowlers in general are encouraged to enter a team in the Bowling Bash to win a chance to bowl for local bragging rights against Fowler and other Rockies players. Other Rockies scheduled to appear are Adam Ottavino, Tyler Chatwood, DL LeMahieu, Yorvit Torrealba and Jordan Pacheco.
The event is part of the Major League Baseball Players Association Players Trust, through which players contribute their time, money and celebrity for causes affecting the needy, and to help encourage others to volunteer in their communities.
Players Trust distributes more than $1.5 million in annual grants and programs. In Colorado, Players Trust has contributed to charitable organizations such as Colorado Uplift, Compassion International, Knight Time Baseball, MLBPAA, One Child Matters, Project C.U.R.E., Teammates for Kids Foundation and Volunteers of America.
The team entry fee is $1,000, individual bowler fee is $200 and non-bowling spectator tickets are $100, portions of which are tax deductible. For information, call 888-714-0755 or e-mail PlayersTrust@mlbpa.org.
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.