|© 2004 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.|
Notes: At long last, Larry Walker06/22/2004 9:14 PM ET
By J.R. Radcliffe / Special to MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- Sometimes, going back to square one is great news.
Right fielder Larry Walker made his return to the lineup for Colorado on Tuesday, making his 2004 debut in the fifth spot against Milwaukee at Miller Park. His reinstatement from the 60-day disabled list and a strained left groin meant manager Clint Hurdle had the chance to pen the lineup envisioned at the season's outset -- one that included Walker and recently-returned center fielder Preston Wilson.
"I screwed it up," Hurdle said of his lineup duties. "[Matt] Holliday kept working his way in the lineup and so did [Luis] Gonzalez, I re-wrote it about three times before I could get it right."
Walker said he felt relieved and glad to be back as a contributing member of the big league club.
"I didn't hold up down there, I went after every ball and did everything the same," Walker said of his rehab assignment with Double-A Tulsa. "I'm not going to hesitate on anything or try to do a certain part of the game at a certain percentage. I'm doing anything I would normally do if I was a 23-year-old rookie."
Of course, the 38-year-old veteran admits he's far from his rookie days.
"I know where I'm at in my age, many surgeries later I know where I'm at," he said. "I know how I feel, it's not something I can hide. I don't have a Martina Navratilova body where you're still competing at 47 years old. I'm going to work with what I've been given."
The three time batting champ, seven-time Gold Glove recipient and one-time league MVP went 2-for-9 during his rehab stint at Tulsa, hitting a home run and driving in two runs in five games. He entered the game against Milwaukee eight hits shy of becoming the 24th active player in the Major Leagues to reach 2,000 hits, a mark he lowered to seven with a double in his first at-bat.
"I don't know what I'm going to bring to the team, I don't know what I'm going to be able to contribute during games," he said. "I'm just going to go out there and do the best I can, that's all I can ask of myself."
Holliday, a legitimate contender for National League Rookie of the Year honors, will be part of a rotating outfield involving the two new additions and Jeromy Burnitz.
"Holliday has earned some time, he'll get his starts and we hope to play him three times a week, if not more," Hurdle said. "He could be involved when he's not playing, ready to pinch hit and double switch from the fifth on."
Hurdle also indicated that Burnitz would be the "swing guy," playing any outfield position as needed when Wilson or Walker had a rest, something the skipper didn't want to do for both players on the same day.
"These are some of the pleasant situations we have to deal with," Hurdle said. "I just know our lineup should play out stronger and our bench should become stronger."
Futures is now for Francis: Double-A left-hander Jeff Francis was among the minor leaguers named to the World roster for the New York Mercantile Exchange Futures Game, to be played on Sunday, July 11, as part of the All-Star Game festivities in Houston.
The 6-foot-5, 200-pound native of Vancouver, British Columbia has a 10-1 record at Tulsa through last week, posting a 2.03 ERA and striking out 114 batters in 93 innings, with just 18 walks. He joins Twins prospect Justin Morneau as the only Canadians on the 2004 World roster.
"He's obviously a premier prospect, but he's also an outstanding human being," said Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd, who made the voyage to Milwaukee. "He's a great kid, great character, great aptitude. He'll only get better as he physically matures. I just think he's dominating minor league baseball."
Welcome back: Shortstop Royce Clayton, who played with the Brewers in 2003, was one of many Colorado players and coaches in Tuesday's game who had previously spent time in Brew City. Pitching coach Bob Apodaca, first base coach Dave Collins, bench coach Jamie Quirk, outfielder Mark Sweeney and Burnitz have all worn the same jersey as Tuesday's opponent.
"I always knew in my heart of hearts that this club with Ned Yost as manager and [Doug] Melvin as GM and the kind of guys they have over there ... they're going to be a team to reckon with in the next couple years," Clayton said of the surprising Brewers, entering the series at four games above the .500 mark. "I keep an eye on how they're doing, Wes [Helms, Brewers third baseman], all those guys are like my little brothers."
Clayton, who hit .228 last year in Milwaukee, has turned the corner in his new digs, batting .297 with six home runs and 25 RBIs in 2004.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Rockies Homepage | MLB.com