Notes: Taveras returns to lineup

Notes: Taveras returns to lineup

PITTSBURGH -- It's a good time for Rockies center fielder Willy Taveras' right quadriceps to heal.

Taveras returned to the lineup, after sitting out three games in Milwaukee and being slowed in the days leading to the All-Star break, for Monday night's opener of a three-game series with the Pirates at PNC Park.

Taveras has a .329 batting average in 20 career games, including .367 in 10 games last season with the Astros, at PNC Park. He said there have been occasions when he was hot before arriving in Pittsburgh, but the park also helps.

"It's the best view in baseball from home plate," Taveras said. "It's beautiful. With the buildings behind it, there's nothing -- it's so dark. It's easy to see the ball here because everything is dark. It makes it easy to see.

"And this park is nice. With the river, it's a beautiful view."

Taveras is batting .325 with a .371 on-base percentage, and a team-high 20 stolen bases, from the leadoff position.

Because his game is based on speed-- he leads baseball in infield hits with 40 and bunt hits with 27, even though he has sat out on occasion with nagging injuries -- the Rockies wanted to make sure he could move aggressively.

The last step was on Monday, when the Rockies had him do the sprints and stops necessary to play center.

"I hope [on Monday] that it doesn't happen much -- if the pitcher pitches well, I won't have to run," he said. "But just in case, I'm feeling pretty good."

On Monday, Taveras had a hit, reached after being hit by a pitch, hustled shortstop Jack Wilson's error on a pop-up into two bases, stole two bases and scored twice.

"We're a different team with him in the lineup," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "He provides a dynamic we don't have when he's out."

A healthy Taveras could lead to a roster move. When the Rockies put left-handed pitcher Brian Fuentes on the disabled list on Friday, they called up infielder Omar Quintanilla and went a pitcher short.

Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said Monday that he is considering bringing up a reliever, provided Taveras is truly healthy.

Rocky road: PNC Park has been a difficult place for the Rockies. They're 8-17 since the park opened in 2001, including losses in nine of their last 12 and four of their last five contests.

Getting close: Right-hander Jason Hirsh, on the disabled list with a right ankle sprain, threw a side session on Monday. The Rockies will see how he recovers from that before asking him to throw an injury rehab game for Triple-A Colorado Springs.

Into the record books: The Rockies and Pirates combined for a Major League record-tying five sacrifice flies on Monday night -- three by the Rockies. In an oddity, the previous record was set by the two clubs last June 7, only then the Rockies had all the sac flies.

Up next: Right-hander Josh Fogg (4-6, 5.36), a former Pirate, will meet Pirates lefty Shane Youman (2-0, 3.00) on Tuesday at 5:05 p.m. MT.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.