SAN DIEGO -- The Rockies believe a brief time away from the Major League spotlight was all right-handed pitcher Juan Nicasio needed.
Nicasio is being recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs to start Friday night against the Dodgers for the second meeting of a four-game set going into the All-Star break.
Before being sent down June 28, Nicasio was 4-4 with a 5.31 ERA in 16 starts, in many cases starting strong before running into trouble in middle innings. The issue came up with his secondary pitches, mainly because he threw them tentatively.
In two starts at Colorado Springs, he allowed one run and struck out eight in 11 innings. His first start was going well before rain limited him to three innings. He threw eight scoreless innings in his next start.
"It's throwing strikes, being in good counts, being more efficient," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "It's got to be a put-away pitch, so he doesn't have to deal with extended at-bats. We all know he's got the big arm, but it's a matter of being more efficient and getting strike one."
The starts at Colorado Springs were his first at the Triple-A level. He was at Double-A Tulsa when the Rockies called him up in 2011, and the last two seasons both were shortened by injuries.
Dickerson going back to Triple-A with Fowler's return
SAN DIEGO -- The Rockies will option rookie outfielder Corey Dickerson to Triple-A Colorado Springs on Thursday when they activate center fielder Dexter Fowler from the 15-day disabled list.
Fowler has not played since June 25 because of a right hand injury, but the team is planning to activate him for Thursday's start of a four-game series against the Dodgers. The Rockies will announce the Dickerson move officially once Fowler is updated.
The Rockies have not made a move in regard to shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who has been out since suffering a broken rib on June 13 but also could be activated Thursday. The Rockies plan to evaluate Tulowitzki on Thursday and could delay activating him.
The move gives Dickerson, 24, a chance for regular at-bats. Dickerson hit .212 in 15 games since his Major League debut on June 22. Before his callup, he was leading the Pacific Coast League in batting (.386), triples (13) and OPS (1.075).
Wright's HR Derby selection of Cuddyer questioned
SAN DIEGO -- ESPN analyst Nomar Garciaparra said Wednesday that any backlash the Mets' David Wright is receiving for picking the Rockies' Michael Cuddyer for the Chevrolet Home Run Derby is simply what comes with having a position of responsibility.
Pirates television announcers have unabashedly criticized the decision, saying Pedro Alvarez should have been picked. Other players have their boosters.
Cuddyer will join teammate Carlos Gonzalez and the Nationals' Bryce Harper on Wright's National League team for the event on Monday night during the All-Star festivities.
"You can't argue with Carlos Gonzalez or Bryce Harper, and people want to see them," Garciaparra said during a media conference call. "The only one you might question is Michael Cuddyer. ... [Wright] had options. He had Domonic Brown, I'm sure in Philly, when they're talking about Domonic Brown, and [the D-backs'] Paul Goldschmidt and Pedro Alvarez. I mean, unfortunately that's what comes with it. When you're the captain, you have to pick. Those guys are all great options."
Garciaparra recalled the Yankees' Robinson Cano experiencing fan displeasure during last year's event in Kansas City, when he made an unpopular choice with local fans. At least the Home Run Derby is at Wright's home park, Citi Field. The reception might not be so warm the next time the Mets travel to Pittsburgh.
"We saw that a lot with Cano when he was in Kansas City for not picking [Billy] Butler, and he had a tough time, and his performance was out there and they were really on him in Kansas City," Garciaparra said. "The unfortunate thing is you understand how the fans feel, but at the same time, it was a time to also appreciate the guys who were out there and what they bring and appreciate this great game and celebrate this great game.
"So I thought that was unfortunate, how long it kept going, but I think David Wright has thick skin, huge shoulders and is confident and he explained why he picked the guys he did."
Wright and Cuddyer grew up in the Virginia Beach area. They each participated in a home run contest a few years back -- one Cuddyer won.
"I think that he's one of the more underrated players and a friend, and our relationship had a lot to do with it, and his production had a lot to do with it," Wright said in explaining the decision. "He has 15 home runs and had a 27-game hitting streak, so, for me, that was my choice."
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CarGo back in Rox lineup from finger sprain
SAN DIEGO -- Rockies left fielder Carlos Gonzalez returned to the starting lineup Wednesday night -- a day earlier than expected.
Gonzalez, who leads the National League with 24 home runs, sprained his right middle finger Sunday against the D-backs. He was supposed to take batting practice Wednesday and return Thursday against the Dodgers, but he was in the lineup during the afternoon and batting practice went well enough that he wasn't scratched before the game against the Padres.
After the Rockies' depleted lineup was shut out on four hits Tuesday night by Padres left-hander Eric Stults, Gonzalez quickened his timetable.
"I was swinging a little bit last night to see if I could pinch-hit," Gonzalez said. "I want to play. I want to be in there. I know it's going to be a little sore.
"I'm just glad to be back and feel a little better."
The Rockies' lineup is creeping back to normal. Center fielder Dexter Fowler is almost certain to be activated Thursday after sitting out with a right hand injury, and the Rockies will evaluate shortstop and cleanup hitter Troy Tulowitzki on Thursday and possibly activate him during the Dodgers series.
"If we go out and stay healthy, it should be good for us," Gonzalez said. "We have a very important series coming. We'll try to finish the first half strong."
Gonzalez said he expects to participate in the Chevrolet Home Run Derby on Monday night and the All-Star Game on Tuesday. He and Tulowitzki have been elected starters. But if his finger is bothering him badly, he could change his mind.
Fowler set for return from DL; Tulo still questionable
SAN DIEGO -- Rockies manager Walt Weiss said the team expects to activate center fielder Dexter Fowler from the disabled list for Thursday's game against the Dodgers, but held off on making the same declaration about shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
Fowler, the team's leadoff hitter, is coming back from a right hand injury. Fowler hasn't played since June 25. The last time Tulowitzki played was June 13, when he suffered a broken rib.
Both played two injury rehab games at Triple-A Colorado Springs before using Wednesday as a travel day to rejoin the big league club.
"I'm expecting Dexter to be ready to go," Weiss said. "Sounds like his hand is doing fine. Tulo's going to go to L.A. It'll be more re-evaluating Tulo and going from there."
Weiss said Tulowitzki, who was among the league leaders in batting at .347 and putting up big-time power numbers, will be watched carefully, the way he has been all season. Weiss has given Tulowitzki periodic days off, and rested him when there was any sign of problems from the leg muscle issues that have tripped him up in past years. The Rockies will monitor the rib, and Tulowitzki will wear rib protection when playing.
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.