DENVER -- Pitcher Ryan Speier has made it back to the Rockies for the second time this season after being recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Tuesday. But, really, this feels like a first. "I felt like I kind of just fell into the job out of default last time," Speier said. "This time, I've been pitching a lot better in Triple-A and felt like I earned it a little bit more."More
Speier returned this season after missing the entire 2006 campaign because of surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. He leads the Pacific Coast League with 28 saves for the Sky Sox and has a 3.35 ERA in 41 relief appearances. With the Rockies' thin bullpen, Speier should become another late-innings reliever; however, initially manager Clint Hurdle said he plans to use him in earlier innings, similar to a role Matt Herges has filled. "I've done it all, and I like closing the best, but that's not really realistic at the big-league level for me," Speier said. "I don't really have big-league closer stuff. I think, ideally, I'd be a seventh- or eighth-inning guy down the road. That would be awesome for me." Speier took the place of Ramon Ramirez, who had gone 2-2 with an 8.82 ERA in two stints with the Rockies this season. Ramirez was recalled July 20 and had pitched four innings, yielding two runs in six appearances. Speier was with the Rockies from April 21-28 and went 0-1 in three appearances. He pitched 2 1/3 innings and gave up four runs. This promotion came as a surprise, but it was rewarding. "I was just worried about what was going on down there, to be honest with you," he said. "We were in playoff run and having a good time, so I wasn't even thinking about it. "Being in a uniform again was great for me. It doesn't really matter where I was. Obviously, I'm happy to be here. Everyone wants to be in the big leagues, but we had a good thing going down there." Fuentes update: Rockies reliever Brian Fuentes threw 25 pitches on Tuesday and faced hitters for the first time since pitching one inning for Class A Asheville on July 17. "I feel better," Fuentes said. "My arm is getting more strength and less discomfort, so that's what we're looking for." The Rockies placed Fuentes on the disabled list on July 13, retroactive to July 4, because of a strained left lat muscle. Fuentes appeared on the road to recovery when he had two strikeouts and yielded no hits in his rehab outing with Asheville, but the club determined he was not ready to return even though the plan was for him to rejoin the Rockies July 19. Hurdle said they would determine the next step depending on how Fuentes felt on Wednesday. Hurdle said Fuentes would go on another rehab assignment before coming off the DL. "When he's physically fit to perform, I think we'd like to get him back involved," Hurdle said. "He makes our bullpen better, but you don't want to jeopardize his health. That's the fine line. We want to make sure he's good to go." Lineup shakeup: Hurdle has had to get creative lately when the Rockies face a lefty starter because of Kazuo Matsui and Brad Hawpe's struggles against lefties. Matsui sat on Tuesday, as did leadoff Willy Taveras, who was 0-for-8 against Tuesday starter Chris Capuano. Jamey Carroll led off with Troy Tulowitzki hitting second and Ryan Spilborghs sixth. Hawpe dropped one spot to seventh. Tulowitzki has hit second in 31 games this season but has done so only twice since June 15. "He hasn't been there in a while," Hurdle said. "I kind of like Spilborghs hitting with a chance with more men on base. And I thought Carroll made the most sense to lead off. Tulo's hit there before, and there's a comfort zone there. Maybe it will stir him up a little bit because he hasn't been on fire; he's been battling." In a class with the Yanks: Hawpe went over 70 RBIs on Monday night with his three-run homer in the first inning. The Rockies joined the Yankees as the only team with three players with more than 70 RBIs. Matt Holliday leads the team with 90, followed by Garrett Atkins with 75 and Hawpe with 72. Up next: Jeff Francis (12-5, 4.01 ERA) goes for a club-record eighth straight victory in the series finale against the Brewers on Wednesday at Coors Field. Milwaukee right-hander Yovani Gallardo (4-1, 2.55 ERA) will make his eighth start of the season. Gallardo pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings in a relief against the Rockies on July 14. Game time is 1:05 p.m. MT.
C.J. Moore is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less