DENVER -- Having seen left-hander Justin Hampson perform well in small chunks of action, the Rockies want to see him in a longer form. Rockies manager Clint Hurdle announced Wednesday that Hampson will start Monday in the opener of a three-game home series against the Giants. It's the next available turn in the six-man rotation that the Rockies are using with their expanded pitching staff. Hampson entered Tuesday night's 10-6 loss to the Giants after Denny Bautista lasted just 2 1/3 innings. Hampson held the Giants to one hit and struck out three in 3 1/3 scoreless innings.
Hampson, 25, a 28th-round draft pick in 1999 who has made steady progress, made his Major League debut Sunday and has given up one run and four hits with five strikeouts and no walks in five innings. He went 8-4 with a 3.33 ERA in starting and relief duty at Triple-A Colorado Springs this season. "We're just going to see what he can do with it," Hurdle said. "This [Giants] lineup is a good lineup, a good challenge at our park. It'll give us an opportunity also to evaluate him in some different areas, not just out of the bullpen." Hurdle did not guarantee that Hampson will start the two other games that could be available -- Sept. 24 against the Braves and Oct. 1 on the road against the Cubs, although Jason Jennings on four days of rest is another possibility. At Triple-A, Hampson bounced back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen, going 6-3 with a 3.61 ERA in 13 starts and 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA in 28 games out of the bullpen. Hurdle said those that have seen Hampson most differ on whether he can be a starter in the Majors. As for Hampson, he is essentially the same guy no matter the role. He throws a fastball, cut fastball, changeup and curveball. In starts, he attempts to establish the fastball early and work from there. As a reliever, he mixes immediately, with the curveball working against lefty batters. Hurdle said the decisiveness in Hampson's pitch selection is a plus. It helps that Hampson is throwing all his pitches with a smile. "It's been unbelievable," Hampson said. "It's like I told Jeff Francis [Tuesday] night when I came out, 'I can't believe I threw to Barry Bonds. It seems surreal.' It was like playing at home on a video game." Hampson said Bonds has hit him quite often on video, but he had never hit Bonds in cyberspace. However, he plunked him on his elbow guard Tuesday night. "When I hit him, I looked to see if he was looking at me, and when he did, I looked down," Hampson said. "I didn't want him to think it was intentional. The pitch just came out a little weird." Hampson is getting a start, however, because most of his pitches have come out properly. Fall homework: 2005 top draft pick Troy Tulowitzki, who has been the Rockies' shortstop since being promoted from Double-A Tulsa recently, leads a group of seven from the organization that will play for the Grand Canyon Rafters in the Arizona Fall League. He'll be joined by first baseman Joe Koshansky, outfielder Matt Miller, left-handed pitcher Josh Newman, and right-handers Jim Miller, Judd Songster and Ryan Speier. Stu Cole, who managed at Tulsa, will manage the Grand Canyon club. The only other Fall League player with Major League experience is Speier, who pitched for the Rockies last season but has missed this season with a shoulder injury. The Rockies are sending eight players to the Hawaii Winter League -- 2004 No. 1 pick Chris Nelson, an infielder; fellow infielders Duke Sardinha and Eric Young Jr.; outfielders Dexter Fowler and Cole Garner; left-hander Adam Bright; and right-handers Shane Lindsay and Ching-Lung Lo. Also, top 2006 draft pick Greg Reynolds, a right-hander from Stanford who went 2-1 with a 3.33 ERA for Class A Modesto this season, and 13 of the first 16 players the Rockies drafted will be among participants in the Rockies' Fall Instructional Program in Tucson, Ariz., after the season. A double-triple: On Tuesday, Rockies third baseman Garrett Atkins became the seventh player in the Majors this season to reach triple figures in runs and RBIs. The others are the Mets' Carlos Beltran, the Marlins' Miguel Cabrera, the Cardinals' Albert Pujols, the Red Sox's David Ortiz, the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez and the Indians' Travis Hafner. Up next: Rockies right-hander Aaron Cook (9-13, 4.14 ERA) will face Giants righty Matt Cain (12-9, 3.94) in the finale of the three-game series Thursday at 1:35 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.