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Notes: Tulowitzki on the mend

Notes: Tulowitzki on the mend

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DENVER -- Tuesday night marked a first for Rockies rookie shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. He was scheduled for a game but wasn't in the park.

"That was the first time -- but I'd have to say that was the most times I'd ever thrown up, too," Tulowitzki said Wednesday, before the Padres and Rockies completed their three-game set at Coors Field.

Tulowitzki didn't make it to Coors on Tuesday because he was suffering from what he believes was food poisoning.

Before coming down with the illness and being told by head trainer Keith Dugger to stay home, he had started 17 straight games and all but seven of the first 99. Jamey Carroll made his second straight start on Wednesday.

Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said Tulowitzki was available Wednesday, but Tulowitzki was still moving gingerly.

"I feel a little better, but not anywhere near what I need to," he said.

Tulowitzki entered Wednesday's play leading National League rookies in runs (57) and walks (34), and is second in RBIs (44), hits (101), total bases (154) and batting average (.282).

In addition, Tulowtizki was baseball's best defensive shortstop, according to the July 18 edition of the ACTA Stat of the Week as compiled by statistician John Dewan, who has devised a plus-minus system for rating defensive play. Tulowitzki was at plus-22, five points better than the Astros' Adam Everett.

The illness is a small obstacle for Tulowitzki, but not as bad as the blow suffered by another NL Rookie of the Year contender -- the Astros' Hunter Pence is out four to six weeks with a wrist injury.

Rookie in the lineup: Rookie catcher Chris Iannetta, who had not started the previous four games, was in Wednesday's lineup. Iannetta entered in an 0-for-23 skid that dropped his average to .186.

In addition to his slump, another problem Iannetta has getting playing time is the hot hitting of Yorvit Torrealba, who hit safely in 12 of his last 13 games and entered Wednesday's play third among NL catchers with a .272 batting average.

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"We definitely want to keep Chris involved to give him an opportunity to contribute," Hurdle said. "Torrealba has shown up very well. As a matter of fact, offensively this is probably the best stretch he's had in a while.

"Whether it be two out of three [games] or three out of four, Torrealba's getting the bulk of the playing time because he deserves it. What falls Chris' way will fall Chris' way."

The Rockies also used Ryan Spilborghs in center field in place of Willy Taveras. They'll continue to give Taveras periodic days off. Taveras suffered a quadriceps strain just before the All-Star break, and the club doesn't want to push him too far with three straight night games to follow.

Comeback trail: Right-handed reliever Dave Veres, who hadn't pitched professionally in two seasons (and hasn't appeared in the Majors since 2003) and underwent hip replacement surgery, pitched in an inning for Triple-A Colorado Springs on Monday night.

Veres got two quick outs, then gave up five runs.

"We'll give him some time and see where it takes us," Hurdle said.

Also, left-handed reliever Brian Fuentes, who hasn't appeared since before the All-Star break because of a strained lat muscle, appeared healthy after playing catch on Tuesday and will play catch at a greater distance Thursday before the Rockies assess the next step in his return.

Nice crowd: Tuesday night's crowd of 37,127 was the Rockies' largest for a non-Interleague, non-holiday game since 40,667 showed up for a game against the Braves on Aug. 14, 2001.

Up next: Right-hander Rodrigo Lopez (5-3, 4.46 ERA) will open a four-game series with the Dodgers against right-hander Brad Penny (12-1, 2.42) on Thursday at 7:05 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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