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Notes: Hawkins healthy again

Notes: Hawkins healthy again

PHOENIX -- Rockies right-handed relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins felt helpless as he sat out with a forearm strain and the team struggled, in part because of its bullpen.

Now, finally, he has a chance to make a difference.

"I feel like I can have the impact I was supposed to have when I first started," Hawkins said before Tuesday night's game against the Diamondbacks, potentially his first game since April 20.

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Now that Hawkins is healthy, the Rockies need for him to provide late-game stability.

In the early part of the season, Hawkins was inconsistent. In fairness, he suffered the injury while throwing a slider but kept pitching even though he was inhibited. The Rockies removed him from the role as primary setup man for closer Brian Fuentes before finally deciding to shelve him.

"I don't think he was healthy to start with, really," manager Clint Hurdle said. "So now he's healthy. We're going to get him back involved.

"I don't know that we're going to jump him back into the eighth-inning slot right away, but we'll pitch him in the seventh and try to monitor his progress. I don't know if we're going to double him up on days right away, but we're looking for some stability out there and we hope he'll provide it."

Hawkins admitted that following the team through its struggles was tough and draining. But Hawkins said the early part of his career with the Twins, a team that struggled for years before becoming an annual contender, is proof that a team can get through a tough time.

"We just need to turn it around and rattle off seven or eight in a row," he said. "That's what we need to do, or just put together some long win streaks -- four games here, four games there, five games here, five games there, win some series.

"That was our motto in Minnesota, 'Let's win a series.' Stop focusing on games and win a series."

To make room for Hawkins, the Rockies optioned right-hander Darren Clarke to Double-A Tulsa. Clarke pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings for the Rockies after being called up from Tulsa on Friday.

Still holding up: The Rockies' slow start has brought fan dissatisfaction and pressure from Denver's media, but Hurdle said he is fighting through.

"I am facing adversity professionally," Hurdle said. "Personally, this is just another thing to get done. I take it personally, as anybody would. Collectively, we need to dislike losing as much as we enjoy winning.

"And they're salty in [the clubhouse]. They want to win. To lose a game like we lost, 10-5 [in a 12th-inning collapse at home against the Royals on Sunday], then to come out with the game we threw out there last night [grabbing a late lead before falling to the D-backs, 6-5], we're not backing down, not backing off. We're bent but not broken, and we're going to get better."

On the Rox: Leadoff man Willy Taveras and No. 2 hitter Kazuo Matsui, who had missed 32 games with a back injury, combined for five of the Rockies' eight hits on Monday night. "I like having it back together," Hurdle said of the combination. We'll see how it plays out." ... Rockies right fielder Brad Hawpe has three home runs and a .636 average (7-for-11) against D-backs ace Brandon Webb. "When you get some good hits against a good pitcher, people think it's a big deal," Hawpe said. "I just happened to barrel up some balls." Hawpe was moved into the fifth spot, ahead of slumping Garrett Atkins, for Tuesday night. ... Hurdle, hoping to keep from overusing Matsui, said he is likely to use right-handed hitting Jamey Carroll on Wednesday night against D-backs lefty Doug Davis. "We're going to have to provide Kaz with some time down on occasion. We're not going to grind him out day after day." Hurdle also will look to get Jeff Baker, possibly at third base, and outfielder Ryan Spilborghs into the starting lineup Wednesday.

Up next: Left-hander Jeff Francis (2-4, 4.60 ERA) will start against Davis (2-5, 3.71) on Wednesday at 7:40 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.

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