DENVER -- Even when Rockies left fielder Matt Holliday was out with a strained left hamstring, he still worked hard to maintain his golden swing.
Despite feeling pain, Holliday was back in the batting cage taking cuts two days after he was placed on the 15-day disabled list May 25.
Then Holliday was off to Triple-A Colorado Springs for a rehab assignment, and after a hitless debut, he combined for six hits in his next two games, including a double and a home run.
Holliday brought his swing back to the Rockies for Tuesday night's opener of a three-game series with San Francisco. Outfielder Seth Smith was optioned to Colorado Springs.
"We're really happy to have Matt back in the lineup," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "He got three good games in [at Colorado Springs], hit the ball from line to line, and was able to run the bases aggressively and score some runs."
The Rockies were 5-9 in Holliday's absence, partly due to a frustrating habit of freezing at the plate with runners in scoring position. During their 3-2 loss to Milwaukee on Sunday, the Rockies were 2-for-12 with men in scoring position and stranded 10 batters.
There's no doubt the team could have used Holliday. He entered Tuesday hitting .321 with eight home runs and 26 RBIs in 46 games and had hit safely in his past 10 games, including a home run in each of the past two.
Add those numbers to a lineup that includes a hot Brad Hawpe (two home runs in his past three games), a consistent Garrett Atkins (.313 average) and the ageless Todd Helton, and suddenly this team looks a little more like the one that led the National League in batting last year and made it all the way to the World Series.
No one is happier than Holliday to see the old gang together again.
"You're not always going to get three or four hits, but you try to do the little things to help the team and contribute," Holliday said. "I'm excited to help the team win."
Jeff Birnbaum is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.