Notes: Barker likes the tradeoff

Notes: Barker likes the tradeoff

DENVER -- Somebody quick, give Sean Barker directions to the mall -- 16th St. or Cherry Creek. Either one will do.

Barker was midway through a viewing of "Knocked Up" after a noontime game in Oklahoma for the Triple-A Sky Sox on Monday afternoon when his cell phone began vibrating.

It was his manager, Tom Runnells, giving him an unexpected call to tell him he was wanted at Coors Field in time for Tuesday's series opener with the Astros.

"The first half was pretty funny," Barker said, giving a thumbs-up for the start of the movie. "I'll have to go back and finish it."

But don't expect the Rockies rookie to rush back to Oklahoma City for the unfinished flick. After a strong start to his sixth season in the Minors, the 27-year-old Barker is poised to make his Major League debut with the Rockies.

Barker takes Steve Finley's spot on the roster, and he'll be used primarily off the bench, something he hasn't had much experience with, having been an everyday player throughout his Minor League career. But Barker is ready to heed Rockies manager Clint Hurdle's advice in adapting to his new role.

"He just said, 'Be ready to play at any time, we might use you here and there and just be ready. It might be a little different from what you're used to, but just go out there and play,' " Barker said.

Barker batted .333 for the Sky Sox through the first 45 games, with five home runs, 17 doubles, two triples and 30 RBIs. He left Triple-A with an eight-game hitting streak intact.

"He's been playing well, he plays all three outfield positions, and he's got some useable speed on the bases," Hurdle said. "He was the best player to call up at the time. He was performing better than anybody at the time. Give him this opportunity and see where it takes us."

Barker attributes his hot hitting to "seeing the ball well," and hoped that things could only get better with the better playing conditions in the big leagues. And he has about as many misgivings about trading in a Triple-A everyday job for a bench role in the big leagues as he had about trading the end of his "Knocked Up" matinee on Monday for a Major League callup.

"I've always been accustomed to playing almost every day, rotating in and out with guys," Barker pointed out. "It'll be something new, but it'll be a good learning experience. If I go about my same routine and take batting practice the way I have been and take care of what needs to be done, I think I'll be ready to go in there when called upon. [Hurdle] said to kind of shadow [Ryan] Spilborghs a little bit, see what he does, and take notes from him."

Finley's exit leaves the Rockies without a left-handed bat off the bench. Finley, John Mabry and Omar Quintanilla were hitting a combined .187 (32-for-171) as left-handed role players, so it's not an area the Rockies were getting much production from to begin with.

"Now, we're going to have none," Hurdle said. "You want to keep your eyes open and see what might be available."

Return to the rotation: Josh Fogg's scheduled return from the disabled list Thursday puts the Opening Day five-man starting rotation back intact as a unit for the first time since Rodrigo Lopez went on the DL on April 19.

Taylor Buchholz took Lopez's spot in the rotation and has made quality starts in three of his last five outings. But in looking at comparable performances from Fogg, Buchholz and Jason Hirsh, Hurdle decided Buchholz was the best fit in the bullpen.

"At this particular point in time, we want to challenge Hirsh, we want to challenge Fogg," Hurdle said. "Buchholz has most recently pitched a little bit in the 'pen. By no means have we closed the door on him starting. He did show us some things in those starts that he made that were at times very, very effective."

Fogg had been on a roll of his own before going on the DL, posting a 3.91 ERA over his last four starts, though he doesn't have a win to show for his efforts.

"I was throwing a lot of strikes, getting ahead," Fogg said of his successful approach before straining his groin running out a bunt on May 22. "I wasn't running counts real deep. I was able to get some quick outs for the most part those three games. Every time I do well throughout the year is because I do those things well. When I'm not going good, it's because I do those things wrong."

The injury never affected Fogg's ability to keep pitching, but the rehab time has been aimed at ensuring that he's prepared to field his position upon returning.

"Physically, I'm probably real close to 100 percent," Fogg said. "Mentally, that initial burst out of the box or covering first base is still that thing I have to test. The only way to really test it is in the game, so that's what I'm going to do Thursday. I feel good physically. That's the most important thing."

Hirsh has struggled more than either Buchholz or Fogg, going 0-3 with a 6.68 ERA in six May starts.

"Jason does not fit in a Major League bullpen right now," Hurdle said. "The only other option for him if he doesn't pitch well would be to keep him starting in Triple-A. But there's too much ceiling, there's too much upside, and we want to make sure that we continue to show some patience. It's one of our character traits that has paid us dividends in the past."

Up next: Aaron Cook (4-2, 4.31 ERA) gets the start in the middle game of the three-game series with the Astros, taking on right-hander Woody Williams (2-7, 5.50) at 7:05 p.m. MT Wednesday.

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