Notes: Rockies' skipper still on leave

Notes: Rockies missing skipper

PITTSBURGH - In the clubhouse about an hour before gametime Sunday afternoon, Colorado Rockies outfielder Cory Sullivan was fielding questions from reporters before he turned the tables and dropped an inquiry of his own on some media types.

"Do you know who our manager is today?" he posed. "I don't think I do. I really don't."

Four managers in three days. Not the most stabile situation, but the current reality for the Rockies.

Regular manager Clint Hurdle left the team after Friday night's 9-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates to be with his wife and 2-year-old daughter, who was being hospitalized. Bench coach Jamie Quirk was the skipper for Saturday's 8-3 defeat but left the team to attend his son's high school graduation Sunday.

That left the duo of hitting coach Duane Espy and pitching coach Bob Apodaca in charge for the series finale Sunday at PNC Park.

"What's happened so far," Espy said of the decisions before Sunday's game, "is that is has been a collaborative effort of most of the staff."

Whole staff? There is scarcely anyone left. Only third base coach Mike Gallego and first base coach Dave Collins remain, and Hurdle said Friday that he wanted to keep them out at their respective posts on the field if at all possible.

Espy was the ringleader in filling out the lineup. He did not speak with Hurdle Sunday morning, and the only instructions he received Friday from his boss were to give center fielder Preston Wilson a day off after the night game.

"Outside of that, he just said, 'Do what you think is best,'" Espy said.

Espy indictaed that Quirk had the final say on all issues Saturday and that he would defer to Apodaca in pitching-related decisions Sunday.

"I'd just come out and see the lineup and go and that's it," outfielder Matt Holliday said. "I have faith that they made the right decision."

Hurdle indicated he will stay with his family until his daughter, Madison, is fully recovered. She suffers from Prader-Willi Syndrome and underwent a series of seizures over the weekend.

"[Who fills out the lineup card] doesn't have much bearing on the players in here," said Sullivan, who attended high school in Pittsburgh and hit his first Major League home run here Friday. "We just wish Clint the best and Maddy good health."

There was no update on Madison Hurdle's condition Sunday other than she is still at The Children's Hospital in Denver.

Lineup shuffle: Espy batted Sullivan leadoff for only the third time this season. He also placed Holliday in the cleanup spot, the highest he has hit all year (he did so five previous times).

Espy shrugged off the changes as insignificant.

"I don't think it's that much different," Espy said. "Sullivan has been swinging the bat really well, and I put him at the top to see if he can give us a spark.

"[Holliday] is starting to drive the ball and hit some home runs, so I wanted to get him in the middle of the lineup, breaking up [left-handed bats Todd Helton and Brad Hawpe] with him. Hopefully, he keeps playing well."

Sullivan was 4-for-his-last-6 and Holliday hit his second home run of the season Saturday night. The two rookies carried the important responsibility of bookending National League batting leader Clint Barmes and perennial All-Star Todd Helton in the lineup.

"I thank [Espy] for that the opportunity go out there leading off," Sullivan said. "With Barmes and Helton behind me, I'll have some protection so I'll probably get to see some good pitches."

Holliday all but laughed when it was suggested that he would be able to compel the Pirates to give pitches to hit to Helton, the only player in the history of Major League Baseball to hit at least .315 with at least 25 home runs and 95 RBIs in each of his first seven seasons.

"I'm not sure but I don't think that you could really put anybody behind Todd and force them to pitch to him," Holliday said. "It doesn't matter who you put behind him, you can't protect him."

Glad to have him back: Espy was asked if Helton's name was the first one he penciled into the lineup this morning. The perennial All-Star first baseman was rested Saturday night, the first game he did not play this season.

"He wasn't the first name because I started at the top," Espy said. "But he was in there, for sure. He's got to be in that No. 3 spot. That's pretty obvious. That's an easy [managerial decision] to make."

Helton has not missed more than 10 games in a season since his first full campaign in 1998.

Miles upate: Second baseman Aaron Miles was not in the lineup Sunday for the fourth consecutive game due to a strained right oblique muscle, but Espy insisted it is more precautionary.

"We're just giving him another day, making sure when he goes back in, he stays back in," Espy said.

Miles pinch-hit Saturday night and was available for that and other late-inning duties Sunday.

On deck: The Rockies continue their 10-game road trip through the National League Central Division when they take on the Milwaukee Brewers for the first time this season on Monday evening at 6:05 p.m. MT. Colorado went 2-4 against Milwaukee in 2004, with a 2-1 record at Miller Park. Right-hander Shawn Chacon will start for the Rockies and will be opposed by lefty Chris Capuano in the series opener.

Chris Adamski is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.